Turkey has grown silent. Since the failed military coup in July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown across Turkish society has featured a particular focus on journalists working for opposition newspapers. According to Reporters Without Borders' Julie Majerczak: "Turkey has become the world's biggest prison for journalists."
But the crackdown goes well beyond press freedom. Two leaders of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP have been arrested for failing to respond to a summons for questioning, in what some say is an attempt by Erdogan to push the party out of parliament. Ertugrul Kurkcu, a Turkish member of parliament who is currently out of the country, said the government is "heading towards a Nazi-style dictatorship," Turkey's soL news website reports. Hours after the arrests of the Kurdish politicians, a suspected car bomb exploded in Diyarbakir, stronghold of Kurds in southeastern Turkey, killing eight people and injuring dozens, according to Hürriyet.
Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have reportedly been blocked in recent hours, following up on past shutdowns by the government of social networks. But the silence inside of Turkey is echoed by the silence of the West. Worried about harming their common interests in the region (including refugees, oil and air bases in the fight against ISIS), the U.S. and Europe keep mum on Erdogan's domestic moves. Former Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar asked Deutsche Welle whether the recent refugee deal signed between Brussels and Ankara — a deal Turkey is now threatening to cancel — had "led Europe to turn a blind eye to democracy."
Jailed since August, Turkish writer AslÄ± ErdoÄŸan summed it up, in a letter penned from prison: "Europe, currently concentrated on its â€˜refugee crisis,' seems to underestimate the perils of total loss of democracy in Turkey," she writes. In recent years, the West has learned that trying to "export" democracy with force can backfire. But that doesn't mean we should simply ignore it either.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)
- Chicago parade today to celebrate the Cubs' World Series win.
- President Daniel Ortega looking for third term in Nicaragua election. (Sunday)
- Vendée Globe round-the-world solo sailing race kicks off. (Sunday)