Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to exempt jailed journalists and political prisoners from an amnesty underlines his inhumanity and his determination to continue targeting his critics during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, said Hülya Schenk writing in Deutsche Welle.
Shenck said that, despite these difficult times, Erdoğan continues to practice his repressive leadership style, with journalists and dissidents being thrown in jail for their political beliefs.
Turkey’s parliament passed a law on Tuesday granting an amnesty to around 90,000 prisoners to contain the spread of coronavirus in Turkey’s overcrowded jails.
Journalists and political inmates are excluded from the amnesty, even though they should never have been jailed in the first place and their detention contravenes the rule of law, Schenk said on Tuesday.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies in the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) rejected demands by Turkey’s parliamentary opposition for the amnesty to be granted to all detainees.
Schenk said that is likely that the government will soon pass new laws to stifle criticism of its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Last week, Erdoğan pressed charges against Fatih Portakal, a popular television host, who had criticised the Turkish president’s drive to raise donation funds to deal with the coronavirus outbreak drive on Twitter.
Schenk said that those who stand for democracy, freedom and the rule of law in Turkey and publicly criticise arbitrary arrests and injustice will continue to be frustrated.