Turkey: Leftist Opposition Party Member Arrested for ‘Insulting’ Erdogan

Muslim Prisoner

Turkish authorities arrested construction worker Dilaver Sarı for alleged insults against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media.

The Dilovası police center summoned the father of two on December 19. After his testimony, the police escorted him to the “Gebze Courthouse on the charges of ‘insulting President’ Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and making ‘propaganda of a terrorist organization.'”

Sarı, a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), received support from his party. HDP Dilovası district branch head Kamuran Onay and other districts heads traveled to the courthouse to condemn the charges.

“This stress, this tension and government-backed violence are not becoming to the political power [government], the president and the current situation in Turkey. It’s not right and it will serve nobody well,” commented former Minister of European Union Affairs Ali Haydar Konca.

Erdoğan’s regime is notorious for targeting anyone who insults or jokes about the president. Today’s Zaman reported that over 250 people have been prosecuted for such crimes, “a crime for which only one person was tried under the previous four presidents.”

In January, authorities arrested former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac, 26, because she quoted a poem on social media that insults Erdoğan. Two months later, the police dragged a 13-year-old boy out of his classroom over an insult towards Erdoğan on Facebook.

Later in March, the government sentenced two cartoonists to eleven months in prison for a cartoon that implied Erdoğan is a homosexual. However, the court overturned that sentence and instead fined them 7,000 Turkish lira ($2,721.16) each.

That same month, a young cleaning lady in a private firm was fired after allegedly posting insults against Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Facebook. The firm refused to fire the woman because they believe in “freedom of expression rights.” When they refused, the government decided to award a cleaning contract to another firm. The new firm immediately fired the young woman.

In September, police officers raided Turkish magazine Nokta after they published an illustration of Erdoğan taking a selfie next to a soldier’s coffin. The officers also seized remaining copies from the newsroom. On September 4, police ransacked the offices of opposition paper Bugün after the publication ran a story that claimed Turkey sent weapons to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. The paper included pictures that allegedly show the weapon exchange.

Only a few days later, angry supporters of the Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a member of Parliament attacked the officers of Hürriyet with stones and shouted, “God is great,” after the publication tweeted Erdoğan’s remarks about the PKK. They deleted the tweet but face a probe for allegedly insulting the president. Editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin condemned the attacks.

Turkish doctor Bilgin Çiftçi lost his job after he compared Erdoğan to Lord of the Rings character Gollum.