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Turkey’s Silivri prison: Symbol of the horror empire

Turkey now has the dubious honor of being the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, and free media in the country is in its death throes.

After the July 15 coup attempt, the Turkish government fired and jailed tens of thousands of civil servants, members of the police, military and judiciary as well as academics and journalists. Today, nearly 160 journalists jailed in Turkey and nearly one-third of theses 160 journalists jailed in Turkey are in the Silivri prison. So, the Silivri Prison has become the world’s largest journalist’s prison. As of today, Silivri Prison has about 50 journalists, including Deniz Yücel, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Mehmet Baransu and İnan Kızılkaya.

Some observers have described the accusations leveled against some leading journalists as bizarre. For example, the AKP government accused Ahmet Şık of being a member of the Gulen network and now he is in the jail. However, Ahmet Şik authored a book called the Imam’s Army that exposed the Gulen group’s corrupt practices. So, accusing Ahmet Şık of being a member of the Gulen network, It’s a bit like arresting Martin Luther King for being a member of the Klan,” said one human rights worker.

Those who were unjustly arrested in Turkey are not only journalists and academicians, the AKP government has also arrested dozens of housewives, artisans, businessmen for the reason that they are a member of the Gulen network. It was reported that prisoners accused of being members of the Gulen network are held in a different section of the prison and the prison administration is imposing much greater restrictions and isolation to these people than other prisoners.

Recently,  Amnesty International Turkey detained and accused of being a member of the Gulen network. Some countries reacted to this arrest. For example, US State Department Spokesman Heather Nauert said “The fact that Kılıç was taken into custody is the last example of trying to silence journalists academicians and dissidents in Turkey.”

Arresting these journalists without any evidence illustrates the politicization of Turkish judiciary. Today the government does not even bother to fabricate evidence. Instead, dissidence and oppositional politics are considered crimes themselves. In such an environment where human rights are violated and freedoms are restricted, it will take some time for justice to be manifested in Turkey. So, It is clear that the Turkish government’s purges are crippling Turkey’s justice system.

DW’s Turkish story was partly translated and used in this piece.

Mustafa Öz, Texas

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