In Turkey / Türkiye

Reuters, Nov 3, 2016

Former Cumhuriyet newspaper editor Can Dundar, now living in exile in Germany

Former Cumhuriyet newspaper editor Can Dundar, now living in exile in Germany

BERLIN — Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s main opposition newspaper which was raided by Turkish police on October 31, has predicted the end of the parliamentary system in Turkey after Turkish authorities arrested the leaders of the country’s main pro-Kurdish opposition party in a terrorism probe on November 4.

He likened the arrests to the failed coup attempt of July: “I mean, arresting the parliamentarians is nothing different than bombing the parliament,” he told Reuters in his exile in Berlin on Friday. “So, without a parliament, without the rule of law, without free press, what do you think will be left in the country? Just the fascists.”

Dundar said that the European governments are to be held partially at fault for the situation. He said that he warned the German government last year about the alarming situation in Turkey. Now the German government also speaks of an alarming situation. “And to say that today, it’s of course good but late. Unfortunately, it’s more than alarming now, it’s burning.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to suppress all critical voices, the journalist said who was sentenced to almost six years in prison in his home country. “And he started with the journalists, the academics, the bureaucrats, army-personnel. And now it’s the turn for the parliamentarians. And that means the end of parliamentarian system in Turkey.”

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, co-leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were jailed pending trial after being held in overnight raids, Turkish officials said. Ten other HDP lawmakers were also detained, although some were later released.

The arrest of elected members of parliament’s third largest party and the detention or suspension of more than 110,000 officials since a failed coup in July may “go beyond what is permissible”, the UN human rights office said.

Germany and Denmark summoned Turkish diplomats over the Kurdish detentions, while European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the actions “call into question the basis for the sustainable relationship between the EU and Turkey”.

The arrests of elected lawmakers from the HDP, which won more than five million votes at the last general election, heightened concern among Western allies about the political direction of Turkey, a NATO member and a buffer between Europe and the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

The government introduced a nation-wide state of emergency after the failed July 15 coup which gave it broad powers to round up suspects linked to the putsch. More than 110,000 civil servants, soldiers, police, judges and other officials have been suspended or detained, as have journalists.

A group of protesters chanting slogans demonstrated outside the Turkish consulate in Frankfurt on Friday, criticizing the absence of freedom of press and tried to reach the party offices but were stopped by police before they could enter the street, a Reuters witness said.

The HDP is the third-largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, with 59 seats. Parliamentarians in Turkey normally enjoy immunity from prosecution, but the immunity of many lawmakers, including HDP deputies, was lifted earlier this year.

 

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