Turkish President Erdogan Is Arresting Doctors On Terrorism Charges For Exposing The Country's Actual COVID Stats
from the terrorizing-people-with-all-these-facts dept
Anyone who says anything critical of the Turkish government is a terrorist. That’s been the operative theory of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has jailed more journalists than China and somehow managed to make a handful of governments around the world complicit in the punishment of his critics.
The hits just keep on coming. The latest roundup of “terrorists” in Turkey is COVID-related, linked to the government’s attempt to bury its bad infection numbers.
Sebnem Korur Fincanci, a forensic physician, and many other doctors had long insisted there was something dodgy about Turkey’s covid-19 figures. Excess deaths across the country far surpassed officially reported deaths from the virus. Case numbers seemed suspiciously low. Vindication came at the end of November, when the government revealed it had stopped reporting asymptomatic infections months earlier. Once it resumed doing so, the case-count rocketed from about 7,000 to over 30,000 a day. (The numbers later dropped, after new lockdowns were imposed.) For her troubles Dr Fincanci, who turned 61 last year, was labelled a terrorist by none other than Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The head of the Nationalist Movement Party, the president’s coalition partner, called for the group she heads, the Turkish Medical Association, to be disbanded.
That’s how the bearers of inconvenient facts are being handled in Turkey. And the government has a brand new weapon to deploy against anyone saying anything it doesn’t like. A law passed late last year gives the government direct control of civil rights organizations in the country, including local branches of worldwide groups like Amnesty International. The law allows the government to remove members facing bogus terrorism charges and seize their assets. It also allows the government to handpick replacements for organization members it has jailed. If that isn’t enough to silence these rights-protecting loudmouths, the government can ban the groups altogether.
All this is happening while Turkey continues to suffer from numerous violent attacks by actual terrorists. But the government has chosen to focus on multitudinous “terrorists” who do nothing more damaging than raise justifiable concerns or undercut the official narrative.
These latest arrests just add to the breathtaking number of people arrested and/or jailed by the Turkish government following a failed coup in 2016. Only a small percentage of those were participants or have engaged in actual terrorists acts. A majority of those arrested are opposition party leaders, teachers, journalists, members of civil rights groups, and dissidents. This may be making things simpler and easier for Erdogan and his acolytes. But it isn’t making his country any safer. With Erdogan in charge, the population’s threat matrix now includes a vengeful, thin-skinned leader.