Report says together with 48 other countries, Turkey remains “not free” as Ankara continues to target opponents at home and abroad

FREEDOM IS still a dream far from realization in Turkey as the country still ranks among 48 other countries that remain “not free.”

This is according to a report by Freedom House, published on Monday and titled Freedom in the World 2019.” This is the second year in a row Turkey finds itself in this unsavoury category.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been harshly criticised in recent past for its failure to practice constitution democracy, failure to respect opposition parties and the constants threats and harassment of the media and those viewed as sceptical critics of Ankara.

The report, published annually by the Washington-based organisation, dropped Turkey’s status from a “partly free country” to “not free” last year.

The focus of the report is to publish a country-by-country assessment of freedoms, Turkey is listed among 49 non-free out of 195 countries, where the freedom of expression has been deteriorating over the last 13 years.

Investigations and criminal cases against Turkish nationals with the accusation of “insulting the president” are on the rise, it laments. This was highlighted as a key indication by Freedom House that shows freedom has been in decline in the country.

Despite Turkey lifting a two-year state of emergency rule, implemented following the July 2016 coup attempt, more than 20 000 cases were investigated, 6 000 prosecutions were conducted only in 2017, the American organization remarked.

Freedom House sets forth a disputed contradiction by Ankara, referring its efforts to reveal the secret assassination of Saudi journalist while abducting or seeking to extradite exiled, critical Turkish journalists.

The report argues that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul on October 2, marking a recent period of oppression and persecution of political opponents living abroad.

“Turkey itself, which has sought to keep Khashoggi’s murder on the front pages, has by its own account captured 104 of its citizens from 21 countries in the last two years in a global crackdown on perceived enemies of the state,” reads the report.

Turkey is among 24 countries which have targeted political opponents abroad by harassing, requesting extradition, kidnapping or assassinating them recently, the report said.

Turkey’s jailing politicians also lowered its grade in freedom index, which was criticized by the organization.

The report also touched on the imprisonment of Kurdish People’s Democratic Party HDP’s former co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed since November 2016.

“In Turkey, simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections took place in June despite a two-year state of emergency that included the imprisonment of the leaders of a key opposition party and extreme curbs on freedoms of association, assembly, and expression,” the report said.

Rapporteurs also underlined the ongoing mass crackdown and purge against dissident Turkish citizens in the country.

The arrest of journalists, civil society members, academic, public officers shaped Turkey’s “not free country” position in the report.

The full report can be read here: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2019

There is no press freedom in Turkey, journalists yearn for better conditions

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