Turkey second country to limit freedoms the most in past decade

In their "Freedom in the World 2020" report, the US government-funded organization Freedom House said Turkey has been the second country to limit freedoms and human rights the most in the past decade. The country's human rights score on the Freedom House scale was cut in half over the past decade when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has governed uninterruptedly. For 2019, the re-run of the Istanbul mayoral elections and the unwavering pressure on the opposition were deemed the biggest blows to freedoms.

Duvar English

Turkey ranked as the second country to have receded the most on a scale of freedoms and human rights protection in the past decade, the U.S. government-funded organization Freedom House said in their "Freedom in the World 2020" report.

Turkey's human rights score has decreased by 31 points in the past decade, marked by the uninterrupted rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

While Turkey's overall freedom score increased by one increment to reach 32 out of 100 in large part thanks to opposition victories in the local elections of 2019, Turkey's internet freedom remains unchanged at 37 out of 100.

Turkey was surpassed in the score decline only by the African state Burundi, which lost 32 points in the past decade.

"Restrictions on basic rights persisted, including repression of those speaking out against the state’s latest military incursion into northern Syria," the report about Turkey said, which it designated as one of its 10 spotlight countries.

A victory for the opposition

The re-run of the Istanbul municipal elections in June and the ongoing arrests of opposition politicians were cited as the top blows to freedoms in Turkey in 2019.

The report noted Turkey's Supreme Election Council's (YSK) favoring of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and pointed to its cancellation of Istanbul's mayoral election in March 2019.

"The party has aggressively used these institutional tools to weaken or co-opt political rivals in recent years, severely limiting the capacity of the opposition to build support among voters and gain power through elections," the report stated.

A consistent pattern of oppression

The report pointed to Ankara's tactic of detention of opposition figures, adding that the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has often been the target of this tactic.

Noting that the reasons behind these arrests varied from "terrorism to insulting the president," the report touched upon the restrictions placed on Kurdish politicians.

"The conflict with the [Kurdistan Workers Party] PKK has been used to justify discriminatory measures against Kurds," possibly referring to the replacement of dozens of HDP administrators by trustees following the party's overwhelming victory in Kurdish regions in the local elections of March 2019.