Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used to suppress his opponents and violate their rights in order to ensure that no one would say anything that threatens his presidential future. The latest of these attacks happened against Turkey’s cancer-stricken Göknur Damat, whom Erdogan had previously called “my adopted daughter” during her visit to the presidential palace.
A Turkish newspaper revealed that Damat was stabbed with a knife because of her support for the elected mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu. A person on the street confronted her and tried to stab her with a knife. She managed to avoid him, but was stabbed in her leg.
This was not the first time that Damat was attacked by Erdogan’s supporters. After she posted on Twitter announcing her support for Imamoglu, Erdogan supporters started an online campaign against her, with one of them even saying, “Why haven’t you died yet?”
Regarding her relationship with Erdogan, Damat said that she had met with the Turkish president at the presidential palace due to her efforts in fighting against cancer. During the meeting, Erdogan called her “my adopted daughter” and took a picture with her.
There have also been repeated attacks against journalists recently. A group of people attacked Turkish opposition journalist Yavuz Selim Demirag on Saturday, May 11, 2019. He had criticized the Erdogan government and his nationalist allies. Six people attacked him after he had appeared the day before on a television program and commented on the cancellation of the Istanbul municipal election results.
Despite international condemnations against Turkey, the violations against journalists who criticize the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) do not stop. On Friday, May 10, 2019, the Turkish authorities arrested three journalists: Zeynep Kuray, Irfan Tunccelik and Janan Joshkon.
The newspaper said that Kuray was arrested while covering demonstrations aimed at drawing attention to hunger strikes in Istanbul, while Tunccelik was arrested while covering the “Peace Mothers” demonstrations held in front of Bakirkoy prison. Joshkon was arrested because of the arrest warrant issued following her case in 2015 that exposed the corruption of some judges.
Similarly, Turkish journalist Ahmet Hakan was attacked in October 2015, just one month before the early parliamentary elections. He was severely beaten by four people loyal to the AKP because of his articles criticizing Erdogan’s government.
In 2018, Emre Uslu’s life was turned upside down after criticizing Erdogan’s policies and revealing details of the Turkish president’s complicity with militant groups in Syria by using humanitarian aid to transport aid to them.
Uslu became a public target of oppressive AKP policies and was subjected to direct attacks by Erdogan himself.
The Press Syndicate recently published a report revealing the existence of 140 journalists in prison, ranging from detainees awaiting trial to others serving sentences.
Meanwhile, leaders of the ruling AKP party have also made public threats against prominent artists in Turkey not to work in the theater, imposing a ban on them and their artistic activities due to their support for Imamoglu in the run-off election for Istanbul mayor in June.
Gulen as a pretext to eradicate opponents
Erdogan used the movement of Fethullah Gulen as a pretext to eradicate his opponents and place them in prison. The anti-organized crime forces of the Ankara Security Directorate arrested on Monday (May 13th, 2019) arrested 46 former police officers out of 64 who had warrants for allegedly acting as secret imams for Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement.
The general prosecutor’s office in Ankara issued arrest warrants and campaigns in the cities of Ankara, Antalya, Çorom, Mersin, Kayseri, Kirikkale, Yozgat and Kahramanmaraş.
Earlier, Turkish police detained 12 people in seven cities who had been laid off from their jobs in the Public Security Directorate under the law, in the context of investigations conducted by the prosecution for belonging to the Hizmet movement.
Since the failed 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish government has launched what it calls a “purge campaign” within state institutions, leading to the arrest of tens of thousands of Turks without any evidence. This raises the number of detainees since the summer of 2016 to more than a quarter of a million – most on fabricated political charges.
Some 55,000 Turks have been imprisoned since the summer of 2016 under the anti-terrorism law, including more than 31,000 accused of belonging to the Gulen movement.
Karam Said, a Turkish affairs researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that a large number of imprisoned journalists and Kurds have been severely injured by the Turkish authorities.
He pointed out that Erdogan has turned his country into a large prison for journalists and opinion writers, with the charges already prepared, the foremost of which is insulting Erdogan, supporting terrorism, and spreading false news, which is only an attempt to intimidate the media.