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Turkey is ‘state of injustice,’ says German MP after arrest – DW – 08/16/2023

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German lawmaker Gökay Akbulut, who was recently put under brief arrest in Turkey, told DW in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that there is no rule of law in the country.

“The rule of law has not been in place in Turkey for years. The separation of powers is also not functioning as it should in a progressive or in an advancing democracy,” Akbulut said, referring to Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

“I think it is an arbitrary rule. It is a state of injustice in which presidential power is being expanded more and more,” she added, while noting that the government is pursing “unlawful” measures based on decree and individual decisions.   

When was Akbulut arrested?

The Turkish-born politician was detained at Antalya Airport on August 3, where she discovered there was a warrant out for her arrest on accusations of spreading terrorist propaganda.

The arrest, which was issued by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the central province of Kayseri, was due to social media posts she made in 2019.

In that year, Turkey underwent a military offensive against Kurdish militia groups in northern Syria. At the time, Akbulut criticized the operation on her social media accounts. Akbulut herself is of Kurdish heritage and has urged Germany to reverse its ban on the activities of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is regarded as a terrorist group by both Turkey and the EU.

A ‘diplomatic crisis’ resolved within hours

Akbulut, who belongs to the socialist Left party (Die Linke) in the Bundestag, described the extensive efforts made by Germany’s Foreign Office to secure her release earlier this month. 

Turkey's Antalya Airport
Akbulut’s arrest at Antalya Airport was met with a swift response by the German governmentImage: Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua/picture alliance

She said the Foreign Office probably engaged in extensive talks, with German officials also taking part in high-level discussions “with the Turkish Minister of Justice and also the Turkish Ministry of the Interior.”

“So it was a diplomatic crisis that was then resolved in a few hours,” Akbulut said. “And then at last it was official that the arrest warrant against me had been lifted.”  

Akbulut not afraid of going to Turkey again 

Akbulut is a member of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag. Lawmakers in that group are expected to take part in an official trip to Turkey in October.

“Yes, definitely!” Akbulut replied when asked if she would also go on the trip.

She said she would not be “criminalized” or “intimidated” and noted that she had worked for years in the group to improve German-Turkish and EU-Turkish relations. Akbulut also said she is a contact person for those in the Turkish opposition, civil society and media. 

At the same time, Akbulut shared the view of the German Federation of Journalists that media workers who have criticized Turkey should refrain from traveling to the country. She reiterated that the Turkish government is acting in a “arbitrary way” and advised critics to prepare before traveling there.

“One should definitely not enter Turkey without any preparation,” Akbulut warned, saying this means hiring an attorney and looking to other types of support. “Otherwise it can end up getting very bad quickly, such as in my case.”

Osman Kavala – A voice from prison

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Nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has ranked Turkey 165 out of 180 countries as of this year in regards to press freedom, saying authoritarianism is gaining ground in Turkey and “challenging media pluralism.”

US watchdog Freedom House, meanwhile, has classified Turkey as “not free” and said the country has “shut down more than 1,500 foundations and associations” since 2016. 

This interview was conducted by Nina Haase

Material from German news agency dpa contributed to this article

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors rond up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing. 

 

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