Turkish prosecutors have launched investigations into a total of 128,872 citizens between 2014 and 2019 on charges of "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while some 27,717 lawsuits were filed on the same accusation, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on March 29.
A tool commonly deployed by Ankara to reprimand critics of the government, insult charges often concern comments about the president, although citizens have been accused of insulting the government's values as well.
Out of the 27,717 cases, some 903 were concerning minors and 9,556 were handed convictions.
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in 2013 that a man named Herve Eon was in fact not guilty of insulting then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy despite his blatant mockery, attorney Köksal Bayraktar noted.
"So why are human rights sacrificed in the name of prosecution in Turkey?" Bayraktar said.
Most recently, women who participated in the Feminist Night March on March 8 International Women's Day were probed for "insulting" the president through a slogan that says "Jump, jump, you're Tayyip if you don't!"
“Jump, jump, you’re Tayyip if you don’t!” chant women, protesting Erdoğan’s withdrawal of Turkey from #IstanbulConvention. This slogan was dubbed a criminal element and lead to detentions after the Feminist Night March on Women’s Day. @azraceylani reports https://t.co/n85nqCy9tA pic.twitter.com/Cbny0fb6uh— Duvar English (@DuvarEnglish) March 20, 2021
"Imagine that, not wanting to be Erdoğan is an insult," said activist Çiçek Yaman.
The government uses insult charges as a cover to "subject people who don't please them to violence," Yaman noted, adding that the government merely aims to intimidate critics, in this case, women.
Lawyer Celal Ülgen said that it was "tragic" that women were detained and investigated for the aforementioned slogan.