Nonresident Senior Fellow Howard Eissenstat Quoted in POLITICO on Turkey T-Shirt Arrests

In light of Turkey’s recent arrest of anyone wearing a popular T-shirt with the word “Hero” printed across the front, POMED Nonresident Senior Fellow Howard Eissenstat was quoted in a POLITICO article entitled “Turkey’s real fashion victims.”

“We don’t have a clear sense of how centralised these arrests are,” said Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at New York’s St. Lawrence University and fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based think tank.

“My strong sense is that much of this is generated by prosecutors and facilitated by judges who are guessing at what the government wants, who are feeling pressured by a cheerleading press. You have an environment where everyone is trying to demonstrate their loyalty,” he said.

Branded traitors

Fear and suspicion have gripped Turkey since the failed coup. Critics worry about their country’s democratic decline, the erosion of state-mandated secularism, increasing government surveillance and the potential of arrest.

But among loyalists, too, paranoia reigns. Fearful of another coup attempt, the government is constantly on the lookout for enemies within. Civil servants who criticise or rule against the state face suspension, investigation or arrest.

“If you’re a policeman or prosecutor, perhaps you’re a true believer, but perhaps you’re doing what bureaucrats have always done — you look at the potential cost of action and inaction and take steps accordingly,” Eissenstat said. “And the cost of not prosecuting, not detaining, can be pretty steep.”

Read the full article here.