Nonresident Senior Fellow Howard Eissenstat Quoted in Muftah

POMED’s Nonresident Senior Fellow Howard Eissenstat spoke with Claire Sadar of Muftah about the recent civil society purge underway in Turkey:

His arrest prompted a wave of vocal shock and condemnation from rights organizationsEuropean politicians, and academics who work on minority issues in Turkey. “If Osman Kavala can be arrested, anyone can be,” Baydar, the Turkish journalist, told Muftah. Echoing this sentiment, Howard Eissenstat, professor at St. Lawrence University and non-resident fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), compared Kavala’s arrest to the prosecution of journalists associated with the newspaper Cumhuriyet, one of the oldest and most respected publications in Turkey. “In both cases, we have the direct targeting of individuals who are so fundamentally mainstream and widely respected that their prosecution underlines that truly nobody is safe.  They highlight the wider crisis precisely because the prosecutions are so patently absurd and vindictive.”

Both Baydar and Eissenstat predict that Kavala’s arrest is just the beginning of what will likely be a wider crackdown on civil society. Baydar believes there may be a high-level decision to crush Turkish civil society, and has observed widespread fear among NGOs in the wake of Kavala’s arrest. According to Baydar, many of these organizations were established in last fifteen years, during Turkey’s EU accession talks. Because they have been created in full cooperation with the Turkish government, the state knows precisely the people and organizations to target in the event of a purge.

In apparent fulfillment of Baydar and Eissenstat’s predictions, on Friday, October 20, Şaban Kardaş, the president of a pro-AKP think-tank, was also arrested. Reports indicatethat Kardaş and Kavala’s arrests are related. If these reports are true, the civil society purge in Turkey is now underway. As Eissenstat told Mutah “no one is safe,” not even AKP loyalists and apologists.

Read the full article here.