(Berlin) – The response of the Turkish government to an attempted coup will be a critical test of its commitment to defend democratic principles and human rights, including media freedom and respect for the rule of law.
By July 18, 2016, authorities had announced more than 7,500 arrests, including 755 judges and prosecutors, and the suspension of thousands of judges, prosecutors, and police officers. Twenty news websites have been shut down.
“While the government has the complete right to hold to account those involved in the coup, the speed and scale of the arrests, including of top judges, suggests a purge rather than a process based on any evidence,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Turkey’s citizens who took to the streets to defend democracy deserve a response that upholds the rule of law and protects media freedom.”
The attempted coup d’état in Turkey by elements in various parts of the military on July 15-16 led to at least 200 civilian and police deaths as they tried to resist soldiers, scenes of tanks in the Istanbul and Ankara streets, and fighter jets bombing the Ankara Parliament. Mass popular opposition to military intervention in today’s Turkey and the unity of all political parties in condemning the coup attempt are widely regarded as having played a critical role in the coup’s failure.