From 1936 to 1938, the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin brutally executed his “Great Purge,” a more innocent name for the wholesale liquidation of “enemies of the state.” The slaughter targeted, among others, Communist Party and government officials, journalists, academics, peasants, Jews, teachers, generals, members of the intelligentsia and many others. “Better that 10 innocent people suffer than one spy get away,” said Nikolai Yezhov, chief of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs). “When you chop wood, chips fly.” In 1932, Stalin launched a war for the “Sovietization” of Russia. Seven decades later, Turkey’s Islamist strongman and president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, launched his war to “Islamize” Ataturk’s modern, secular Turkey.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five countries are the world’s top jailers of journalists. At the top of its list is Turkey, leaving behind China, Eritrea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Of the 172 reporters being held in those countries, 163 were detained without charge or for offenses classified as “anti-state” — the same crime for which Stalin jailed and exiled Russian dissidents. Erdoğan’s witch hunt is still going at full speed.
At the beginning of September, a prominent Turkish opposition official was sentenced by a court to nine years and eight months in prison for insulting Erdoğan and “engaging in terrorist propaganda” for tweets posted as early as 2012 and beyond. Canan Kaftancıoğlu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s Istanbul branch, was also accused of “insulting the government and public servants and inciting hatred and enmity.” All of the charges against her were based on tweets posted years ago. But why was she sentenced now?
Kaftancıoğlu came to prominence only after her critical role in defeating Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul’s municipal elections on March 31 and June 23, ending Islamist rule in Turkey’s biggest city after 25 years.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, tweeted that the verdict was “surreal and outrageous,” adding, “Erdoğan takes revenge for opposition’s election victory. Unacceptable!”
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