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English (United Kingdom)

Who is responsible now?

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As I sadly sat down to write a press release yesterday for my organization the Human Rights Agenda Association to protest the detention of Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, I learned about the bomb attack in Ankara. I immediately left my house to see the place and the situation was terrible.

According to the latest information, 95 people died and 246 were wounded. This is the deadliest terror attack in our republic's history. It is obvious that the perpetrator aimed just to maximize the number of deaths because it is stated that they put iron ball-bearings in the handmade bomb. Two explosions happened within 30 seconds, wreaking havoc.


After this deadly attack, the justice, interior and health ministers said in a press conference that there was no "lack of security or weakness." They rejected the claims that the authorities failed to take sufficient security measures to prevent such an attack and denied that they should resign over alleged negligence. Indeed, apparently this is not a time to resign. I really wonder what the proper time to resign is, if not now. Not accepting the results of the June 7 general election and deciding to hold a second three months later was completely useless, but the Justice and Development Party (AKP) chose to do so. This is the point to which they've brought the country at the end of 13 years and Turkey is now looking like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.

When I'm saying that Turkey has become another Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, you may think that I'm exaggerating but I'm saying this not only looking at these terrorist attacks but also the intellectual and political atmosphere created in the country. Keneş, the editor-in-chief of the best-selling English-language daily in Turkey, is in prison for sharing tweets criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP government. Legally, he has been detained because of Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which illegalizes insulting the president. This ridiculous article makes no sense in our century. Insulting is not a good thing, but the line between freedom of expression or criticizing the president and insulting must be interpreted to give a lot of room for criticism because he is a politician and defending the position that insulting requires a prison sentence is out of date. President Erdoğan's team pushed forward this article of the TCK in order to silence whoever criticizes Erdoğan. This can only be seen in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan and now in Turkey.

As of today, harassment of the free media is widespread and systematic in Turkey. Whoever criticizes the AKP government and Erdoğan is at risk. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and all other worldwide human rights groups share the same position on Turkey, that the country is violating the basic principles of human rights on press freedoms. It is not a coincidence. Today the editors of newspapers are being imprisoned and tomorrow it will be our turn.

Bad foreign policies made Turkey a target of terrorism and no one is safe. If you dare to criticize these policies, you can easily be prosecuted and jailed. The name of this kind of regime is known by everyone in the world but if I write it here, I'm sure that I will be prosecuted. The government thinks that they've found the perpetrators of the Diyarbakır and Suruç massacres of June 4 and 20, respectively. Identifying the names of the suicide bombers doesn't mean that all the perpetrators have been discovered. Who prepared the bomb, who helped them, whose idea and plan was it and who is behind the veil? The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or another terrorist organization? The pattern is the same in the Ankara bombings and if the AKP had completely uncovered those behind the first two bombs, we wouldn't be facing such an ugly development. Can you tell me, who is responsible now?



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