From Abdullah Bozkurt for Turkish Minute:
The unprecedented crackdown on lawyers who defend critics, dissidents and opponents of the authoritarian regime of Turkey’s strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, paint a dismal picture of how the criminal justice system has been turned into an instrument of oppression at the hands of the country’s Islamist rulers, who give orders to judges and prosecutors in cases where the outcome is predetermined.
How would it be possible to insure a fair trial with unfettered access to a lawyer when lawyers themselves have been arrested en masse or had to flee the country to avoid imprisonment? The government of Turkey, controlled by a brutal dictator, Erdoğan, did not even bother to put on a charade of following due process in criminal prosecutions and trials when judges and prosecutors simply carry out instructions from the political authorities for fear of being dismissed or even arrested themselves.
The harassment and imprisonment of defense lawyers in large numbers have already had a chilling impact in Turkey, where lawyers are shying away from taking on cases that may be politically sensitive, or are demanding exorbitant fees to discourage clients. Bar associations, required by law to provide a lawyer to represent suspects who have no lawyer, are also reluctant to assign lawyers to these cases. Even if they assign one, the lawyers often withdraw, do not mount a vigorous defense or fail to go through the motions to protect the rights of the clients.
It’s safe to say that Turkey is the only member of NATO which arrests journalists, lawyers and domestic political opponents. Small wonder Erdogan is leaping into the arms of Vladimir Putin, a strongman who won’t bat an eye at such a brutal crackdown. While Erdogan was able to get Putin to close all of Fetullah Gulen’s schools in Russia by 2014, it’s not clear how much the Russian position has changed in light of the assassination of their ambassador and Erdogan’s obsession with blaming Gulen as the mastermind.
In 2012, President Barack Obama revealed that Erdogan was a trusted friend among world leaders. By 2016, Obama had changed his mind. In an interview with Jeffery Goldberg for The Atlantic, Obama referred to Erdogan as “a failure and an authoritarian.” Writing for TheGaurdian, Simon Tisdale adds:
Erdoğan has also fallen foul of the Obama administration over how best to fight Isis and his cross-border shelling of Syrian Kurdish militias, who Washington regards as useful allies against the jihadis and the Damascus regime. In a recent interview, Barack Obama described Erdoğan as a failure and an authoritarian. When Turkey shot down the Russian warplane, the US was almost as alarmed as Moscow, especially when Erdoğan called for NATO backup.
Looks like Erdogan doesn’t need, nor does he want that back-up anymore. But he needs continued suppression of dissent and truth from his own people in the mean time.