How was Turkey lost and why did Washington do nothing to stop it are questions that historians will ponder. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is the new Vladimir Putin. Erdogan’s disdain for independent press rivals the Kremlin’s. He has systematically harrassed journalists and confiscated media companies, often handing them to political allies or family members. NGO activists and journalists are held in Turkish prison without charge for months on end. More than 200 journalists, editors, and intellectuals have been arrested in the last four years.
Alas, Obama has, like Bush before him, turned a blind eye toward Erdogan’s abuses, wishing to believe that Turkey remains a Western democracy even as its prime minister re-orients his country toward Syria, Iran, and Sudan.
Against this backdrop, prominent Turkish editors and civil-society activists will testify tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at an open hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the Rayburn House Office Building (rm. 2200). Among the panelists are:
Riza Turmen, columnist, former ambassador, and former judge, European Court of Human Rights
Ihsan Dagi, Professor for International Relations and a Columnist
Sedat Ergin, Columnist, Hurriyet Daily
Hasan Bulent Kahraman, Columnist, Professor of Political Science, Sabanci University
Selma Acuner, Association for Supporting and Training Women Candidates, Coordinator for International Relations
What they say is worth hearing, but will not instill hope in an era of change.