Erdoğan's latest arrests creating fear of crackdown among his foes - analysis

A move by Turkish authorities last week to resurrect tensions over the uprising at Gezi Park by detaining a group of people it says were involved in the nationwide protest is creating fear among critics of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that further arrests are underway, the Independent wrote.  

Yigit Aksakoglu, a consultant and civil society activist who gained a small measure of fame by taking part in anti-government protests more than five years ago, was detained last Friday along with 12 others. He,unlike the others, has yet to be released.

It is Aksakoglu’s involvement in the 2013 protest which began over the Turkish president’s plans to develop green space in central Istanbul but soon mushroomed into broader protests across Turkey against the country’s leadership that has landed him behind bars, the newspaper recalled.

‘’The new arrests have dampened hopes that Mr Erdogan would ease up on a widespread crackdown against political foes following his victory in general elections this year,’’ the article pointed out.

There has been international uproar on the arrest of businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, a prominent figure during the Gezi protests and chairman of an organisation called Anatolia Culture, which says it promotes cultural diversity and human rights, one year ago. Kavala remains without an indictment.

Last week, Erdogan said, “The person, who financed terrorists during the Gezi incidents, is currently in prison,” regarding Kavala, adding “And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew George Soros. This is a man who was assigned to divide nations and shatter them. He has so much money and he is spending it in these ways.”

There’s no evidence Soros, a Hungarian-born banker and philanthropist, had anything to do with the Gezi protests, it noted.

While such detentions risk damaging Ankara’s relations with Europe, the article said, at a key moment when Turkey is seeking to smooth relations in an effort to restore investor confidence after a financial crisis following a row with Washington.

The arrests of people who had done little more than speak their minds marks yet another erosion of free expression in Turkey, the Independent wrote, noting that Erdogan has championed the cause of murdered Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi even as human rights and press monitors have criticised declining Turkish media freedoms in the last few years.