Two Turkish journalists, being held for publishing controversial reports, are calling on the European Union not to compromise on human rights as it works toward making an agreement with Turkey regarding the flow of refugees.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan’s rule has become authoritarian, but Western governments appear weary of creating conflict while remaining dependent on Turkey for refugee help. Turkey is well known for human rights violations and suppressing freedom of speech. Several journalists have been held and possibly murdered for reporting on the crimes of the Turkish government.
Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, and senior editor Erdem Gul are both being held in Silivri prison near Istanbul for publishing photos which purportedly show Turkish intelligence sending weapons into Syria. Last week, both men wrote to EU leaders asking them to consider Turkey’s human rights record before making a deal with the nation.
[pull_quote_center]We would also like to hope that your desire to end the crisis will not stand in the way of your sensitivity towards human rights, freedom of press and expression as fundamental values of the Western world.[/pull_quote_center]
U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Mark Toner released a statement on Thursday concerning the arrests of Dünbar and Gül:
“We are troubled by the pre-trial arrest yesterday of senior editors of the respected Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.
“The investigation, criminal charges, and arrest raise serious concerns about the Turkish government’s commitment to the fundamental principle of media freedom. These events are only the latest in a series of judicial and law enforcement actions taken under questionable circumstances against Turkish media outlets critical of the government.
“We call on Turkish authorities to ensure that all individuals and organizations — including but not limited to the media — are free to voice a full range of opinions and criticism, in accordance with Turkey’s constitutional guarantees of media freedom and freedom of expression.”
Although the State Department, the U.S. embassy in Turkey and the Council of Europe have criticized the arrests, the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement on Sunday to help with the overwhelming flow of people across Europe.
Jean Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said the deal “would not lead to a situation where we forget about the main differences and divergences we have with Turkey – human rights and freedom of the press.”
Is Turkey arming ISIS?
But what about the claims made by the reporters at Cumhuriyet? Is there any truth to the claims that the Turkish intelligence agency is shipping weapons into Syria?
RT visited the newspaper’s office in Istanbul, and spoke with reporters to find out more about the claims. The reporters told RT about a convoy carrying weapons. RT writes:
“Those who sent the convoy from Turkey knew that the weapons were ‘heading to end [up] in ISIS hands,’ one of the Cumhuriyet bosses told RT’s Ilya Petrenko. ‘There was that flag that belongs to ISIS… [it could be seen] very clearly [from] Turkish border line,’ the journalist said.
Turkish officials made contradictory statements after the paper blew the whistle, first saying that the arms ‘were going to the Free Syrian Army,’ then denying the delivery altogether, and then saying the ‘aid was destined for the Turkmen.'”
Journalist Serena Shim had previously reported similar claims about Turkish intelligence. Shim, a journalist with Iranian Press TV, was threatened by Turkish officials after reporting that ISIS supporters were being smuggled across the Syrian-Turkish border. Shim was killed in a car accident in 2014, just days after she said she was accused of being a spy.
“I believe my daughter gave her life for the truth,” Judy Poe, Shim’s mother, told Fox News. “I absolutely suspect foul play.”
The idea that Turkey is supporting the Islamic State through arms is not necessarily a new claim. In May, Reuters reported:
“Turkey’s state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters.
The witness testimony contradicts Turkey’s denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member.”
These reports are largely absent from mainstream journalism and television pundits. When discussing ISIS and the danger they pose the corporate media is quick to point to human rights violations and why we must stop the terror group. What they are less likely to tell you is that allies of the United States, including Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, are responsible for atrocious acts of violence and supporting the rebels which led to the current Islamic State.
With the recent escalation between Turkey and Russia, it seems as if the proxy-war between the NATO nations and Russia/Syria/Iran is coming to head. As Ben Swann explains below, it seems the U.S. government and its allies were aware that ISIS would rise to power, and used the event as a pretext for bombing Syria and attempting to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.