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The 12th episode of IPI’s podcast series IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey is out now!

In the 12th episode of IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey podcast, host Cansu Çamlıbel and her guest Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), discussed Turkey’s free expression violations as part of wider human rights problems and the polarized political atmosphere that shapes the rights violations.

Previous episodes of IPI’s Freedom Dialogues: Turkey podcasts are available here.

According to Sinclair-Webb, Turkey already has so much on its plate in terms of human rights problems. The coronavirus pandemic only added to that and shows how the Turkish government instrumentalized a public health crisis to violate many rights. “We have seen a lack of willingness from the government to work with the opposition in any way to combat the public health crisis”, Sinclair-Webb said.

She also pointed out, in addition to restrictions on freedom of speech, the ban on freedom of assembly for peaceful demonstrations as instruments used to suppress oppositional voices and criticism.

From the parole law in March to the social media regulation in October, she stressed that the government has used its parliamentary majority to rush through highly problematic laws that have only broadened the human rights problems in the country. With respect to the parole law, Sinclar-Webb noted concerns about its potential impact on domestic violence, given the number of convicted offenders who were released in March as part of the law. She said it was difficult to follow this issue due to the lack of data. “Turkey is a country that deliberately does not provide and disaggregate data on domestic violence and women’s killings.”

“The early release law was a highly discriminatory law, because it left out those in remand, as well as prisoners who were charged with terrorism crimes”, Sinclair-Webb said. She emphasized that the anti-terror law was used in Turkey to punish critics.

The conversation also touched on the recent arrest of journalists who had reported on the alleged torture of two Kurdish villagers, one of whom later died in the hospital. She argued that there is pressure from the government not to investigate this incident fully because it involves the military. Sinclair-Webb also underlined that reporting from Turkey’s Kurdish regions is more difficult because journalists covering such violations are under constant target.

Topics covered in the podcast include:

  • The link between political rhetoric and human rights violations
  • Lack of access to official data on human rights violations
  • Social media law and other problematic laws that deepen Turkey’s free expression problems
  • Rights violations left uninvestigated in southeastern Turkey
  • Problems journalists reporting on the rights violations face

Highlights from the episode (Emma Sinclair-Webb):

  • “In Turkey we know that the use of terrorism laws are rife and pervasive and anyone can get accused of terrorist crimes just because of a speech or joining an assembly or demonstration.”
  • “This [social media] law plunged Turkey into a dark era of restricting information and communication.”
  • “Many things that happened in the southeast [of Turkey] are not known because there are very few journalists who are able to know what happens in remote areas and report on it. The ones who do report on it find themselves absolutely targeted all the time.”
  • “We have seen that the military, the security forces and the police are untouchable. There is such an entrenched culture of impunity even when there is such strong evidence.”

About IPI Freedom Dialogues:

Turkey The International Press Institute (IPI) is proud to launch the new podcast series IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey, a platform for timely, vital conversations on press freedom, freedom of expression and the future of quality journalism. You’ll get the inside story from some of Turkey’s most trusted editors, journalists and relevant experts as they analyse and shed light on key journalism-related issues in Turkey for both local and international audiences. Episodes will be available in both English and Turkish.

As independent journalism in Turkey faces massive repression, its practitioners are fighting to keep the public informed and reinvent the profession to face the challenges to come. Hear from the experts.

IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey is hosted by Cansu Çamlıbel, editor-in-chief of the popular English language news site Duvar English and a member of IPI’s Turkey National Committee. Before joining Duvar, Çamlıbel was the U.S. correspondent of Hürriyet Daily News.