Nov 03 2017

Campaigns against Erdoğan critics “absurd” – Rodrik

Charges against a prominent Turkish businessman and civil society activist are absurd and are part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s strategy of stoking enmity against perceived foreign threats in order to shore up his domestic support, a top Harvard economist wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Dani Rodrik examined the “campaigns to demonise” figures including Osman Kavala, a major figure in Turkish civil society activist accused of undermining national independence; Sevan Nişanyan, a commentator jailed on charges of violating the building code; and Ahmet Şık, once jailed for writing about followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen infiltrating the police and judiciary, now imprisoned on charges of being a Gülenist himself.

Rodrik said such figures were targeted for defying and rhetorically undermining the nationalist-conservative consensus that keeps Erdoğan safely in power:

Someone like Mr. Kavala becomes a target precisely because he represents everything that Mr. Erdoğan’s regime is trying to obliterate: a thriving and independent civil society, tolerance for intellectual diversity, cultural autonomy for Kurds and other minorities, cooperation with nongovernmental networks abroad.

Both Kavala and Şık are accused of collaboration with Gülenists, who allegedly include the prosecutors accused of falsifying evidence against Rodrik’s father-in-law, ex four-star general Çetin Doğan, that led to his jailing in 2012 on charges based on plotting a military coup against the AKP government.

Rodrik also notes how the pro-Erdogan media suddenly launched a coordinated attack against Mr. Kavala, a practice which has now become daily routine in certain outlets.

The Gülenists are accused by the Turkish government of masterminding last year’s failed coup.

As Rodrik reminds readers, however, it was not that long ago that “Mr. Erdogan was in cahoots with the Gülenist police and prosecutors who were fabricating evidence against secularist military officers, journalists, academics and politicians”.

For Erdoğan’s allies to campaign against these outspoken critics today, accusing them of Gülenist sympathies, is both “outlandish” and “absurd”, Rodrik said.

 

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