DR. KAMAL SIDO / GESELLSCHAFT FÜR BEDROHTE VOLKER INSTITUTION MIDDLE EAST SPECIALIST
In authoritarian states the activities of persons in exile are considered a threat to the regime they have established themselves and resorts to the method of oppression in order to create problems for them
Every year, on the “International Day to end Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists” (November 2), journalists who are in prison or receive death threats although they are free, are commemorated. On this day, attention is drawn to the low penalties imposed worldwide for crimes committed against journalists and media workers. The attackers usually go free because they attack journalists. Only one out of ten crimes is being clarifi ed and punished. This issue causes young people to think again before doing political journalism. Working in this area has a great value. Media workers play a key role in informing the public about social issues of importance. For this reason, the impunity of attacks on media employees negatively affects the conscience of society.
ATTACKS ARE INCREASING AROUND THE WORLD
Attacks on media workers are increasing worldwide. These attacks can range from virtual mobbing to unlawful imprisonment and even assassination. The attacks are usually organized by the governments of the countries where media workers in exile have fl ed. This is how Freedom House, founded by human rights defenders, defi nes the concept of “transnational repression”. The reason for the increase in these attacks in the 21st century is, fi rst of all, technological developments, increased interstate cooperation against migrants and the lack of international guidelines. Authoritarian states view the activities of those in exile as a threat to their own established regime. Along with this, they resort to the transnational method of repression in order to intimidate those in exile and create problems for them. Freedom House stated in its 2021 report that an estimated 3.5 Million people were subjected to
transnational repression. Transnational repression can be divided into four categories:
1) Direct attacks such as physical attacks, kidnappings and assassinations,
2) Practices such as illegal deportation with the help of other countries,
3) Restrictions on freedom of travel, such as passport cancellations, which can lead to imprisonment,
4) Cyber mobbing or threatening of family members in the country.
TURKEY TAKES THE LEAD IN KIDNAPPINGS
Transnational repression from Turkey has also not lagged behind the trend in the world and is noticeably on the rise. Previously, those who were abducted to Turkey by the Turkish intelligence service with the help of “friendly states” were supporters of the banned Kurdish party PKK, today they are mostly followers of preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in the United States. The Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gülen of
involvement in the 2016 coup attempt. This coup attempt has led to the extraordinary wide-ranging transnational repression of the Turkish government. Deportees in 30 countries in Asia, the Middle East, North and South America and Europe have been subjected to these practices.
Russia’s transnational repression practices are usually in the form of assassinations, while China uses all four repression methods. Turkey is the leader when it comes to kidnappings. In recent years, the Turkish government has been carrying out most of its attacks against names linked to the Gülen Movement. The Gülen Movement is also associated with the coup attempt in 2016 and has been declared a “terrorist organization” in Turkey.
ARRESTS DEMOSTRATED LAWFUL
According to Freedom House’s research, 58 cases of kidnapping, unlawful arrest and torture have been detected in 17 countries since 2014. However, since such cases have not been publicly carried out, the numbers provided by the United Nations and the Turkish government are perhaps only half of the truth. Those in exile are arrested and handed over to Turkey in their countries of residence without running legal processes. Similar events have occurred as a
result of the cooperation of the governments of Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan with the Turkish government.
Turkey itself does not hide kidnapping cases either. The victims are proudly displayed in the media, and illegal arrests are shown as a legitimate tool in the fight against terrorism. For this reason, the Sabah newspaper, which is close to the government, regularly publishes articles that will make kidnappings legitimate under the name of combating terrorism. Various transnational repression practices implemented against members of the Gülen Movement,
which has been declared a terrorist organization, or people who are considered to be connected with the movement, are also legitimized in this way. 110 Physical attacks detected by Freedom House, which were carried out by the Turkish government, are linked to terrorism charges.