U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House has reduced Turkey’s status from “partly free” to “not free” in its latest annual report.
The “Freedom in the World” 2018 report, published on Jan. 16, ruled that Turkey’s “political rights rating” had declined from 4 to 5 and its “civil liberties rating” had declined from 5 to 6.
Specifically referring to the “deeply flawed” April 2017 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system, the report also blasted the mass dismissals of state employees, “the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state.”
Criticizing the developments since the July 2016 coup attempt and the ongoing state of emergency rule, Freedom House noted that “using emergency powers and vaguely worded terrorism laws, the authorities had suspended or dismissed more than 110,000 people from public-sector positions and arrested more than 60,000 others by year’s end.”
“Since the attempted coup, at least 1,500 civil society organizations have been summarily closed and their property confiscated,” read Freedom House’s latest report.
“The prosecution of journalists and closure of media outlets continues. Arrests based on messages shared via social media are common, leading to widespread self-censorship and a general chilling effect on political discourse,” it added, also highlighting the arrest of Osman Kavala, describing him as “perhaps Turkey’s most prominent civil society leader.”
Businessman and philanthropist Kavala was detained in October and is still in jail on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”