International Discussion Series: Tragedy of Democracy: Turkey and the Challenge of Dissent
Tragedy of Democracy: Turkey and the Challenge of Dissent
Following the breakdown of the peace process in mid-2015, which led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands in Kurdish cities and gruesome images of burnt people in basement shelters, academics and activists who declared their dissent were jailed, dismissed from their positions, and are still on trial. The failed coup attempt took the crackdown on dissent and the takeover of the civil society to a whole new level by the leeway for summary judgments by decrees and a total purge of the public sector of non-loyalists under the disguise of legitimate anti-coup measures. Turkey has the highest number of journalists in jail, frequently making the news with the crises caused by its “hostage-diplomacy,” and the rigged referendum of April 2017 has effectively downgraded the political system to the league of one-man regimes in the region.
What went wrong in Turkey, which was until very recently promoted by the Western governments as a model for the Middle East? Is the Turkish regime’s hostage-diplomacy actually working to appease an authoritarian regime by the “liberal democracies”? Can democracy win against all odds?
Speaker, Halil Ibrahim Yenigün, is a visiting post-doctoral scholar at Stanford University's Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. He had been dismissed from his assistant professor position at Istanbul Commerce University soon after the Erdoğan regime kicked off the purge and persecution of non-loyal academics in reaction to the Petition for Peace.