Jeff Gibbs is an American who lives in Istanbul. Last month, his father-in-law, a member of the pro-Kurdish BDP party, was arrested in an ongoing crack-down that has landed so far thousands of Kurdish politicians, activists, and sympathizers in jail. His blog entries on the experience offer a first-hand perspective on Turkey’s deteriorating legal and political environment.
Those arrested are said to have links to KCK, the Kurdish insurgency, and other terrorist groups. But the police and the courts have such a wide definition of what constitutes a “link” that anyone who utters pro-Kurdish views – as well as anyone who happens to be within earshot – seems potentially culpable.
Here is Gibbs:
“And the evidence is apparent in the newspapers the next day. A phrase taken out of context from a lecture by someone at the BDP Academy–‘We must make them see us as bombs,’ a teacher supposedly said in regards to the reigning party. ‘And we must see ourselves also as flaming bombs.’ They were speaking metaphorically of course, talking about building themselves into a political force to be reckoned with—but that’s not how the AKP is spinning it.”
One of those detained is a well-known political science professor and another is a human-rights campaigner. The professor’s crime: giving lectures at the BDP academy. Gibbs again:
“When the prosecutor decided to accuse the BDP academy of terrorism, they had the police sweep the entire school for fingerprints. Anyone who had been there within the past few days was taken—students, visitors, teachers, and even a man from a shop on the first floor who’d gone up one afternoon for tea. So much for evidence, due process, rule of law or even logic.”
When questioned about the professor’s arrest, a visibly irritated interior minister put it this way: “I am having a hard time understanding those saying a professor should not be arrested while thousands of other people are being arrested in Turkey.” Well said.
Meanwhile, here is a good article by Frederike Geerdink on the parallels in the staged prosecutions targeted at the military and Kurdish activists.