Bilateral relations with NATO ally Turkey are probably not on president-elect Donald Trump’s top-50 priority list. All the same, when Trump’s diplomats will have to work with Turkey on issues that may soon gain prominence — such as Syria — they will have to deal with a man who says he does not mind being called a dictator.
Instead of resembling a Western democracy in the European Union — to which Turkey has long been struggling to join as a full member — Turkey increasingly looks like Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea. Most recently, the World Justice Project placed Turkey 99th out of 113 countries on its Rule of Law Index 2016, performing even worse than Myanmar and Iran. The index measures nations for constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement and civil and criminal justice.
Turkey is also now the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and academics.
It also claims the title of the world’s biggest jailer of opposition politicians. A dozen lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish, opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were detained on November 4 because they refused to give testimony in criminal proceedings. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that democratically elected officials normally can only be forced from office in an election, but those officials who mix with and encourage “terrorism” must face legal proceedings. Turkish prosecutors began probing more than 50 HDP members of parliament after the legislature voted to scrap immunity in certain cases. Turkish officials say HDP lawmakers were detained because they refuse to testify in their cases.
On the same day that Turkish police detained Kurdish lawmakers, Turkey restricted access to multiple social media services throughout the country, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Restrictions on the messaging services WhatsApp, Skype and Instagram were also detected, validating widespread user complaints about WhatsApp service failure in Turkey. Iit was the first time Turkey imposed nationwide restrictions on social media.
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