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Fumbling Human Rights Again


First Obama fumbled the human-rights agenda with Russia. Then China. Then Burma. Then Iran. Then Syria. Then Iran again. Now it’s Turkey. President Obama yesterday showered Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with praise: “I’m pleased that I’m able to call Prime Minister Erdogan personally a friend. I’m grateful for his trip here and look forward to many years of collaboration with him to observe both the prosperity of the American people and the Turkish people.”

Not a word on Erdogan’s embrace of Sudan’s president and Erdogan’s dismissal of any Sudanese responsibility for mass murder in Darfur. Not a word on Erdogan’s personal embrace not only of Hamas, but of the most militant and rejectionist leaders in that movement. And not a word on Erdogan’s personal war on the free press in Turkey. On Nov. 30, 2009, the World Association of Newspapers passed a resolution on Turkey. It is worth reading:

The Turkish Finance Ministry has imposed fines totalling 3.8 billion US dollars this year on the Dogan Media Group for tax irregularities. The group denies all charges. There are grounds to believe that the case might be politically motivated and aimed at silencing the Dogan media. Prosecutors have so far launched 3,845 investigations against media and journalists on the grounds that their reports violated the “confidentiality” and “independence of judiciary” in a systematic effort to stifle the reporting on the case and suppress critical opinions. WAN-IFRA Board calls on the Turkish authorities to cease the campaign of intimidation of journalists and media and to ensure that legal norms, including tax laws are applied fairly and transparently, not used as a tool to intimidate the press. It urges the Turkish government to firmly commit to the rule of law and to uphold international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

President Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and vouched for his soul, not realizing it was a mirage.  For all intents and purposes, Erdogan is Obama’s Putin.


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