Ankara Releases Prisoners Except for Opponents

US and European media reports have accused the ruling party AKP, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of attempting to cover the failure of its measures to combat the Coronavirus, by putting forward the decision to release prisoners with criminal cases, noting that Erdogan’s government seeks to exploit the decision for political purposes.

According to The Washington Post, the decision, which is currently under consideration by the Turkish parliament, states the release of 90,000 criminal detainees, by excluding political prisoners detained for opposing and criticizing AKP’s policy and Erdogan himself, so by this decision, the President Erdogan will hit multiple birds with the same stone, the newspaper writes.

“Erdogan is redirecting attention from his government’s unsuccessful battle against the novel coronavirus, by reducing the number of people behind bars, while he will be using this bill for his own political purposes. He will release some of his supporters, but not any of Turkey’s tens of thousands of political prisoners,” Washington Post says.

This comes as Turkey has become one of the most affected countries by the COVID-19 outbreak, suffering from a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases with a number of  52,000 cases with around 1000 deaths confirmed.

The number of political detainees in Turkey has doubled dramatically in recent years, following the failed coup d’etat that took place in the summer of 2016, and which Erdogan’s government accused what it calls the parallel organization of the cleric Fethullah Gulen – who is exiled in the US – of planning it.

That campaign of arrest included tens of thousands of state employees, army leaders and university professors, in what human rights organizations described as a political cleansing operation carried out by the government against its opponents.

Meanwhile, the issue of donations requested by President Erdogan is still raising a significant controversy within the Turkish street, especially in light of accusations by the Turkish opposition to the regime of stealing donation funds with the amount of app. $ 40 billion.

On the other hand, the Turkish authorities prevented collecting any donations by the municipalities led by the opposition.

 Al-Arabiya news outlet reported that the Turkish government’s decision to prevent fundraising campaigns from the opposition-run municipalities to help the families affected by Corunavirus provoked anger on the social media.

In late January 2020, Turkish writer Asli Erdogan, an opponent to the Turkish president, sent a message to her friends at the Geneva’s Human Rights Council entitled: “Turkey is waging a comprehensive war against human rights” and the message was published by the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.

“My trial is on February 14, and as you know I was arrested on August 16, 2016, on the pretext of being a member at the symbolic advisory committee of Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish newspaper,” the massage says.

“Although there are 6 other people on the advisory committee, Nasmi Elbay, the newspaper’s auditor, was arrested two weeks after me,” Asli continues, according to Arab and international media sources, noting that the accusations leveled against her are violating the state’s unity, spreading propaganda and being a member of a terrorist organization, and the sentence of which accusations is 15 years. Asli was released four and a half months after her arrest, but the case is still at the court.

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