At a rally in Ankara over the summer, held by the women’s branch of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced:
“From now on, there will be no fight for freedom of faith, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion. Everyone will be free in their own faith [and] be free to live accordingly. [Everyone will be at liberty to] say whatever he [or she] believes in.”
Erdogan did not hide the fact that his statements at the August gathering were part of his “preparations for the 2019 local elections,” scheduled for March 31. The Turkish president did, however, hide the fact that his words were completely false. To illustrate, let us review some of the human-rights abuses in Erdoğan’s Turkey that took place in one month, December 2018, alone.
On December 19, the 40th anniversary of the Maraş Massacre — in which 111 Alevis were slaughtered in the southeastern city of Kahramanmaraş — the governor of Kahramanmaraş declared a ban on commemorative events for the victims. The reason cited for the prohibition — similar to that imposed in 2017, ahead of the 39th anniversary of the massacre — was to avoid a “disruption of public order.”