Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is carrying out an unprecedented clamp-down on opposition voices in the country, arresting tens of thousands of people, firing even more, and shutting down the few media outlets that still dare to be critical of the Turkish leader.
But on Tuesday one of Turkey’s oldest newspapers vowed to continue to protest against Erdoğan’s rule, despite having at least 12 members of its staff arrested Monday, including its editor-in-chief. The left-leaning Cumhuriyet was accused of supporting a failed coup attempt in July.
After the editor, a cartoonist, and several columnists were arrested, Cumhuriyet’s Tuesday edition ran with the headline “We won’t give in” and left two columns blank, in solidarity with the detained staff.
The attack on the Cumhuriyet newspaper is just the latest move in an unprecedented attack on free speech by the Turkish government.
Here’s a by-the-numbers rundown of what has happened since July to those accused of having links with terrorist organizations and with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government blames for inciting the coup attempt:
- 170 — media outlets shut down
- 1,577 — university deans forced to resign
- 2,700 — judges fired
- 163 — admirals and generals fired
- 24,000 — teachers and Interior Ministry employees fired
- 24 — mayors arrested in southeast Kurdish region of Turkey
- 110,000 — total number of people fired
On Tuesday, according to a Reuters report, the government said it would appoint administrators to run the municipality in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish region of southeast Turkey where Erdoğan’s crackdown has been largely focused.
Last week a Turkish prosecutor arrested Diyarbakir’s joint mayors, accusing the pair of links with terrorism for public statements they made about greater autonomy for Kurds, who make up about 20 percent of Turkey’s population of 79 million.
The July attempt to overthrow the Erdoğan government was by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council. Erdoğan used the coup to enact a state of emergency, and he has extended it until January, to harsh criticism from some political players.
“What the government and Erdoğan are doing right now is a direct coup against the rule of law and democracy,” Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said in a Periscope broadcast posted on Twitter.