Fear and uncertainty appear to have gripped the Republic of Turkey as the once-most stable predominantly Arab country in the world continues to smart from the latest military coup in its history, and strike back at the perpetrators and those who have either aided or masterminded the takeover.
With a state of emergency in place, the government of President Recep Erdogan has begun cracking down hard on all elements of Turkish society that it has identified as subversive “dissidents”. To this end according to the Turkish national news agency Andolu, he has ordered the closing of up to 130 media outlets across the country, including 45 newspapers, 3 private news agencies and 16 television stations.
Furthermore, Fox News reports that an astounding number of military officers have been dismissed, 87 of them bearing the rank of general. They join a rough total of about 16,000 Turks from schools, police, the judiciary and general public, who have been taken in and interrogated for suspicions of involvement in the failed coup. Of these, half have been placed formally under arrest and facing trial, according to a statement of Interior Minister Efkan Ala Wednesday.
The uprising was crushed by loyal military forces on July 16, the day after it erupted, with 290 dead and 1,500 wounded. President Erdogan, who was targeted while on vacation, had managed to elude capture and rallied the masses to resist the coup plotters, while also alleging that the driving force behind the coup attempt was the self-exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. Gulen was the founder of a religious movement that gained many followers from the Turkish people, even opening and running a network of schools throughout the country. He has denied any involvement.
Outside sources see the government’s crackdown on its local media as a means of stifling reports reaching the world at large that most of the arrested coup participants have been imprisoned within horse stables and event halls in less than humane conditions, having been beaten, stripped naked, bound in stress-inducing positions without any food and water, and molested.
Amnesty International and other human rights campaign groups have called out Erdogan’s regime for exploiting the coup attempt in order to make the government more repressive and authoritarian. They are therefore demanding to be granted access to the prisoners in order to assess their well-being.
Erdogan for his part insists that his measures are reasonable and that the media restriction was not a prelude to authoritarianism. He again accused Gulen and his movement for plotting to organize a parallel state within Turkey through the civil government, military and mass media. The Turkish president has requested that Gulen be extradited back to their country to face trial.
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