Turkey has suffered a sharp decline in freedoms and democracy, a U.S.-based watchdog revealed in its annual report, citing the centralization of power in the presidency and acceleration of post-coup crackdown on real and perceived political enemies, corrosion of the rule of law and the continued purges of public workers.
Washington-based Freedom House downgraded Turkey’s status from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free.’
The report offered a riveting account of the downward spiral of freedoms across the world amid the resurgence of authoritarian and repressive regimes in a reversal for democracy and liberty.
“Political rights and civil liberties around the world deteriorated to their lowest point in more than a decade in 2017, extending a period characterized by emboldened autocrats, beleaguered democracies, and the United States’ withdrawal from its leadership role in the global struggle for human freedom,” the report said in its “Freedom in the World in 2018” report.
“Democracy in Crisis” was the central theme of the report to highlight the persistent assault on democratic norms, rule of law and free elections.
Turkey also suffered palpable setbacks in terms of freedoms. The decline in its status comes after “a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.”
Things only went worse since a botch coup attempt in 2016. It unleashed a sweeping clampdown on opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The media landscape came under full-blown assault, while the judiciary has been shredded and the political realm has been gutted by the government takeover of municipalities and imprisonment of opposition lawmakers.
President Erdogan’s “response to the July 2016 coup attempt has become a sprawling witch hunt, resulting in the arrest of some 60,000 people, the closure of over 160 media outlets, and the imprisonment of over 150 journalists.”
The crackdown and purge, the report underscored, intertwined with an offensive against the Kurdish minority, which in turn has fueled Turkey’s diplomatic and military interventions in neighboring Syria and Iraq.