Human Rights Watch: Erdoğan using coronavirus crisis to deepen his authoritarianism

NEW YORK — In its World Report 2021, Human Rights Watch stated that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the coronavirus pandemic to deepen his authoritarian rule by issuing new restrictive laws in order to silence his opponents and critics.

The report stated that, over the past year, Turkish authorities have used the pandemic as an excuse to prohibit and target opposition demonstrations, issue new laws that give it broad domestic surveillance powers, and limit the rights of lawyers.

The report also mentioned that Erdoğan’s government have deliberately excluded thousands of political prisoners from an early release program put in place to ease the pandemic outbreak in the country’s prisons.

Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of HRW Hugh Williamson stated that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has become an excuse for Erdoğan’s government to strengthen his authoritarian rule at the expense of unifying the country during a public health crisis.”