Human Rights Watch: Presidential elections in Turkey strengthening authoritarianism

LONDON — Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised concerns about the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, asserting that the outcomes further solidify the grip of authoritarianism on the Turkish political system. A recent HRW report sheds light on ongoing issues such as the detention of journalists and inhumane conditions in deportation centers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reelection, coupled with the parliamentary results, bolsters authoritarian rule in Turkey, marked by arbitrary punishment of critics, control over media and courts, and severe restrictions on political opponents. The government’s influence over the majority of media outlets played a pivotal role in the election, leading the International Election Observation Mission to criticize biased coverage during the campaign.

Journalists, especially those of Kurdish descent, are facing legal actions under anti-terrorism laws and criminal defamation charges, with insults against the Turkish president being a commonly used charge, deemed a violation of freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights.

Furthermore, the report highlights Turkey’s continued illegal deportation of men and boys to northern Syria, coerced into signing voluntary return forms. The Turkish regime’s actions include the destruction of vital infrastructure, disrupting water and electricity services for millions in North and East Syria. This occurs concurrently with the Turkish occupation of northern Syrian territories, coupled with violations by Turkish-backed factions against civilians with impunity.