On Apr. 16, 2017 Turks voted to give away their democracy when 51.4% of them endorsed constitutional amendments that made President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan head of state and head of the ruling party — all at the same time.
Before the referendum, Erdoğan’s powerful state apparatus systematically silenced the “No” campaign and its supporters while the “Yes” campaign enjoyed all possible government support, instrumentalized by means of public resources. The Turks went to the ballot box under a state of emergency – declared after a failed coup in July 2016. The co-leaders of a pro-Kurdish party who campaigned for ‘No’ had been imprisoned since November 2016 on charges of links with terror groups. In the 15 months leading up to the referendum the police had used violence to stop 264 peaceful demonstrations in favor of the ‘No’ campaign.
The witch-hunt included 47,155 people in jail, including 150 journalists; 113,260 under detention; and 135,000 people purged from government service. Jailed officials included 10,732 police officers, 168 military generals, 7,463 military officers, 2,575 judges and prosecutors and 208 governors and other public administrators.