Freedom of Speech or a Perpetuation of Danger?

In Turkey, recent trials taking place have led to distress among human rights activists. One recent trial includes that of Taner Kilic, the chairman of Amnesty International in Turkey.

In July, 2016, a failed attempt to take over the government in Turkey roused the public, with the question of “who’s to blame?” still unanswered. Killing around 300 people, the coup was a suspected attempt by the Gulen movement, an opposing group in Turkey politics.

Though the President of the Gulen Movement, Fethullah Gulen, denies taking part in the coup, Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan has encouraged the arrest of many people belonging to the movement.

Plotted by a Turkish army faction, the coup attempted to protect the secular democracy Turkey once upheld. Without public or more military support, the coup failed. Though the overthrow did not take precedent the way he faction intended, it still brought this popular issue to public attention in Turkey.

Turkey, an endorser of secular democracy, has faced difficulties with its government system since Erdogan has come into power. Criticised for disregarding freedom of speech, the protests presently taking place in Turkey condemn Erdogan for neglecting this principle.

Claiming they are corrupt and illegitimate, the protesters highlight the unjust nature of these arrests. Though the Turkish government maintains the lawfulness of these arrests due to the anti government sentiment of the Gulen movement, the protesters retort by advocating for their freedom of expression.

Currently, protesters stand outside of Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse with signs scrutinizing the government for arresting those on trial. Gaining support from not only within Turkey, these protests are assisted by foreign presences. In addition to opposed politicians and human rights activists in Turkey, the German Consul for Istanbul have participated.

In response to the trial objections, the Turkish government has placed a new ban on public protests, concerts, hunger strikes, and sit-ins. Essentially ridding the Turkish people of any form of expression, individuals caught engaging in any of these activities will be arrested. Similar to the coup arrests, those who have protested the trials are being deprived of their right to free speech.

A multi layered problem, the Turkish protests boil down to the question of freedom of speech. Where do we draw the line? Is the President too strict with his speech regulations? Presently, all people in Turkey have lost this sentiment of free speech, leaving protesters with little to do.