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UN Rights Chief: Journalism Is Not A Crime In Turkey


The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has taken Turkey to task for its human rights violations and the media crackdown, expressing concern over the state of emergency that granted a blank check for arbitrary rule.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told reporters in Geneva on Monday that it’s “highly unlikely” that recent string of mass arrests and suspensions “will have met due process standards.”

The U.N. rights chief was referring to the arrest of nearly 3,000 individuals last week as well as the purge of over 14,000 public employees, most of whom were police officers.

Mr. al-Hussein said he is “very concerned” about the renewed state of emergency and the “climate of fear” in the country. He acknowledged that terror attacks need to be tackled but “not at the expense of human rights.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan significantly expanded his powers in a referendum on constitutional changes last month and extended the state of emergency for another 3 months. Since the failed coup attempt last summer, Mr. Erdogan acted with anti-democratic impulses and shut down hundreds of civil society groups, media outlets and universities.

U.N. rights chief’s remarks reinforced fears that Mr. Erdogan would be even more unstoppable after the referendum, providing further vindication of worsening democratic regression in the country.

On Monday, as workers thronged into Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square to mark May Day, Turkish authorities showed no sign of budging. 4th year in a row, the police used heavy-handed tactics to disperse the protesters. Nearly 200 protesters were arrested in protests.

Mr. al-Hussein also criticized Turkey for imprisoning a large number of journalists.

“Journalism is not a crime in Turkey. It’s an issue which we believe the government must pay deeper attention to.”


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