The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has classified Turkey as “not free” for the first time since the report series began in 1999.

According to the new report on freedoms round the world, due to the Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown in the wake of a failed 2016 coup attempt and the disputed referendum in 2017 which gave the Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan widespread new powers, political and civil rights in the country have deteriorated significantly in the counrty.

The Freedom House pointed that President Erdogan and his government have been replacing elected mayors in many different pasrt of Turkey with political allies and for “arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state”.

Turkey’s passage over the threshold from Partly Free to Not Free is the culmination of a long and accelerating slide in Freedom in the World. The country’s score has been in free fall since 2014 due to an escalating series of assaults on the
press, social media users, protesters, political parties, the judiciary, and the electoral system, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fights to impose personalized control over the state and society in a deteriorating domestic and regional security
environment. Erdoğan has pushed out his rivals and former allies within the ruling party, reshaped media ownership to fit his needs, and rammed through an unpopular constitutional referendum to create a “super-presidential” system without meaningful checks and balances. His response to the July 2016 coup attempt has become a sprawling witch hunt, resulting in the arrest of some 60,000 people, the closure of over 160 media outlets, and the imprisonment of over 150 journalists. The leaders of the third-largest party in the parliament are in prison, and nearly 100 mayors across the country have been replaced through emergency measures or political pressure from the president. The government has even pressed its crackdown beyond Turkey’s borders, triggering a flood of Interpol “red notice” requests to detain critics abroad, among other effects,” the report said.

For the full report: