Turkey’s Erdogan tries censoring Swedish documentary on Assyrian genocide

This video says about itself:

16 December 2010

The Assyrian Genocide (also known as Sayfo or Seyfo) refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The Assyrian population of northern Mesopotamia (the Tur Abdin, Hakkari, Van, Siirt regions of present-day southeastern Turkey and the Urmia region of northwestern Iran) was forcibly relocated and massacred by Ottoman (Turkish) forces between 1914 and 1920. Estimates on the overall death toll have varied. Contemporary reports placed the figure at 270,000, although recent estimates have revised that figure to as many as 500–750,000.

These two videos are the sequels.

From The Local in Sweden:

24 April 2016 15:25 GMT+02:00

The Turkish embassy in Stockholm tried to bring pressure to bear over a TV4 documentary, according to the station’s programme director, Viveka Hansson.

Hansson, in a statement on the TV4 website, said that she had been sent an e-mail by Arif Gulen, the press officer at the Turkish embassy, asking her to “reconsider the decision” to broadcast a documentary tonight about the slaughter by the Ottoman Empire of Christian Assyrians that occurred during the First World War.

Turkey has long rejected claims that the killing of some 275,000 Assyrians should be classified as a genocide. The mass killing, called Seyfo by Assyrians, is designated as a genocide by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Hansson dismissed the request out of hand.

“We can never accept this. We will protest against any attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression,” Hansson said.

See also here.

Turkish journalists jailed for Hebdo cover: here.

Turkish regime’s crackdown on journalism continues

This satiric music video says about itself:

German TV mocks Turkish dictator: Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan – English subtitles

29 March 2016

He’s living in grand style
Big boss from Bosporus
A showy palace with a thousand rooms, built without permit in a nature preserve
Press freedom gives him a swollen neck
That’s why he needs all those scarves
When a journalist writes a piece
That Erdogan doesn’t like
He quickly ends up in jail
Newspaper offices closed down
He doesn’t think twice
With tear gas and water cannons he is riding through the night
Be nice to him
Since he’s holding all the cards
Erdo-how, Erdo-where, Erdogan
The time is ripe
For his Great Ottoman Empire
Erdo-how, Erdo-where, Erdogan
Equal rights for women
Beaten up equally

Istanbul police has dispersed an International Women’s Day demonstration by force
If the election results are off
He’ll shake them into place
He loathes the Kurds
And much rather bombs them
Than his brothers in faith over at ISIS
Hand him your money
He’ll build you a refugee tent
Erdo-how, Erdo-where, Erdogan
His country is ripe
For EU membership
He doesn’t care for democracy
Erdogan says goodbye
And rides off into the sunset

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Turkey: Government continues its crackdown on journalists
Monday 25th April 2016

ONE journalist has been arrested and another denied entry to Turkey in the latest crackdown on free speech by the government.

Turkish-Dutch columnist Ebru Umar was arrested on Saturday after tweeting about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, her paper said yesterday. The Metro journalist tweeted that police were at her door and that she was being taken to a police station in the resort of Kusadasi.

German newspaper Bild said yesterday that Greek photographer Giorgos Moutafis was denied entry at Istanbul airport on his way to a job in Libya on Saturday.

The snapper said he was told that his name was on a list of people barred from entering the country. He was not told why. He was forced to take the next flight back to Athens yesterday morning.

The incident came days after a journalist with a German public broadcaster was prevented from entering Turkey.

Dutch NOS TV reports today there has been a burglary at Ms Umar’s home in Amsterdam. Her computer is said to have been stolen, and her whole home ransacked. Erdogan‘s secret police are suspected of this crime.

‘Human rights are terrorism’, Turkey’s Erdogan claims

This video says about itself:

November 28, 2015: Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi was shot and killed Saturday in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Turkey: Four academics put on trial over ‘terrorist propaganda’

Saturday 23rd April 2016

FOUR Turkish academics went on trial yesterday in Istanbul for allegedly spreading “terrorist propaganda” in the latest crackdown on dissent by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The four academics were among a group of more than 1,000 scholars who signed a declaration in January criticising the government’s brutal military operations on majority-Kurdish areas of the country since last July.

They were arrested last month after holding a news conference during which they stood by the declaration.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the military sieges of south-eastern cities in response to renewed Kurdistan Workers’ Party attacks.

Mr Erdogan has resorted to laws against insulting the presidency on more than 1,000 occasions since his election in 2014.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the courthouse in Istanbul to show their support for the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s chief editor Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul, as well as the four academics.

The in-camera trial of Mr Dundar and Mr Gul resumed in a separate chamber of the Istanbul court, but was adjourned again until May 6.

The two are accused of espionage and aiding terrorists by publishing photos of National Intelligence Organisation arms shipments to Syrian terrorists.

Journalism can never be described as espionage,” said opposition MP Garo Paylan. “Journalism is about revealing misdeeds by the state and relaying this to the public.”

‘Turkey’s Erdogan stoking Armenia-Azerbaijan war’

This video says about itself:

Human rights controversy surrounds European Games in Azerbaijan

14 June 2015

In Azerbaijan, a leading critic of the government has been escorted out of the country by Switzerland’s foreign minister.The activist has spent 10 months at the Swiss embassy, trying to avoid arrest. Meanwhile, there are calls to boycott a big sporting event because of the country’s human rights record. The European Games have just opened near the capital, Baku.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

Turkey ‘urging war’ to settle Nagorno issue

Saturday 23rd April 2016

Russia slams Ankara’s role in Caucasus dispute

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Turkey yesterday of stirring up war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

He was speaking after meeting his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandyan to discuss the recent renewed conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The statements of the Turkish leadership are absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Lavrov said. “These were the calls not for peace but for war. These were calls to resolve the conflict by military means.”

“Unfortunately, we have got accustomed to such ‘twists’ of the current Turkish leadership,” he said.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Minsk Group of Russia, France and the United States of “inaction” on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Mr Nalbandyan said the recent fighting had pushed back talks over the contested territory.

“A serious blow to security and stability was dealt,” he said. “But one should think about how to overcome these consequences, although some things are irreparable — the deaths.”

“These events have pushed the negotiating process backwards,” he said.

The two former Soviet republics have been in dispute over the majority-Armenian oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan since 1988, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The two countries went to war in 1994, since when the region has been under Armenian jurisdiction.

Fighting flared up again on April 2, with dozens killed as Azeri forces tried to reoccupy the area. Turkey backed Azerbaijan’s position.

Russia, which has treaty obligations to Armenia and a military base in the country, joined the US, France and Iran in mediating a truce.

Last summer, the Armenian capital Yerevan saw weeks of anti-government protests in an apparent attempt at “colour revolution.”

Earlier yesterday, Mr Lavrov laid a wreath at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian genocide memorial, a move sure to antagonise Ankara.

Turkey does not accept that the killing of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman empire, beginning in 1915 and lasting several years, was an act of genocide.

Earlier this week the pro-Turkish FactCheckArmenia.com group drew fire when it took out full-page newspaper and prominent billboard adverts in the US, including in the Wall Street Journal and New York’s Times Square, implying that Armenia and Russia were lying about the atrocities.

German government persecutes comedian for satire on dictator Erdogan

This video says about itself:

German comedian Jan Böhmermann makes fun of Erdogan

12 April 2016

After the German comedian Jan Böhmermann made fun of the Turkish President Erdogan in a poem calling him a “murderer, goat rapist, child molester and killer of the Kurds“, the Turkish government demands from the German government to put him in jail or deport him to Turkey in which he could face up to 20 years in jail for insulting Erdogan; “His head is as empty as his balls”.

By Peter Schwartz in Germany:

German Chancellor Merkel gives green light for prosecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann

16 April 2016

The German government has given the green light to criminal proceedings against the satirist Jan Böhmermann for supposedly “insulting” the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the move in a statement at the chancellery on Friday.

Merkel has given in to pressure from the Turkish government, which has been demanding Böhmermann’s prosecution. Ankara acts mercilessly against oppositionists and journalists inside Turkey; there are currently more than 1,800 such legal proceedings for “insulting” Erdogan, and over a dozen journalists are in prison.

Paragraph 103 of the German Penal Code, under which Böhmermann is being prosecuted, is a relic of authoritarianism. It makes the “insulting of the institutions and officials of foreign states” a punishable offence. The penalty ranges from a fine up to three years imprisonment, and five years in the case of supposed “defamation.”

In the Kaiser’s Empire, Paragraph 103 protected crowned heads. In 1948, the news magazine Der Spiegel was banned for two weeks for revealing that Prince Bernhard, the spouse of the Dutch Queen Juliana, had been an honorary SS officer. In the 1960s, the Persian royal family used it to suppress criticism of its regime of torture. And in 1975, it was used to prosecute demonstrators who correctly characterised Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile as a “band of murderers.”

Unlike other sections of the penal code, paragraph 103 requires the direct authorization of the Federal government. In order not to jeopardise the dirty deal with Turkey to stem the influx of refugees to Europe, and to suppress opposition to the persecution of refugees, Berlin has imported Erdogan’s authoritarian methods into Germany.

Merkel is trying to disguise this reality by promising to abolish paragraph 103 by 2018, and declaring that the government’s decision to apply it in the Böhmermann case does not amount to a rush to judgement. She has justified its application, saying it was “not a matter for the government but for the state attorneys and courts to weigh up the personal rights of those affected and other concerns about the freedoms of the press and artistic expression.”

But that is a sham. In reality, Merkel condemned Böhmermann shortly after his controversial broadcast, when she telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and assured him that she considered it to be “consciously damaging.”

Erdogan himself had not reckoned with the German government agreeing to the use of paragraph 103, and as a precaution had instigated a private libel suit under paragraph 185, which foresees far milder penalties.

The vast majority of the German population oppose the prosecution of Böhmermann. In a poll conducted by Emnid, more than two thirds said they thought Merkel was making too many concessions to Erdogan in this case. Many prominent artists have expressed their solidarity with Böhmermann.

An open letter published in news weekly Die Zeit, signed by many renowned actors, states: “Discussions about and criticism of Jan Böhmermann’s Erdogan poem belong in the country’s literary supplements and not in a Mainz court room… Art cannot take place in a climate in which artists have to have second thoughts about whether their creations may lead to legal proceedings, and begin to censor themselves, or be censored.”

Even the German government is divided. There were “differing views between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats,” Merkel said. While the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) agree with the application of paragraph 103, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) rejects it. “I think the decision is wrong,” SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Oppermann commented on Twitter. “Penalising satire for ‘Lèse majesté’ does not sit well in a modern democracy.”

The broadcaster ZDF, which transmitted the controversial episode of Böhmermann’s satire programme “Neo Magazin Royale” on March 31 on its ZDFneo channel, has taken down the episode from its website, saying it did not meet ZDF’s quality standards, but would defend Böhmermann legally.

“The form and content of the satirical contribution were not meant to impugn the honour of the Turkish president, but were part of a critical debate,” according to the legal submission made by ZDF to the State Attorney in Mainz. The “constitutional guarantee of freedom of satire” embraces, “especially in connection with matters of public interest, the use of coarse stylistic devices.” It is part of the essence of satire that “well aimed excesses, which are meant to elicit emotions and reactions in the public, draw attention to a topic and express criticism.”

Standing in front of a Turkish flag, Böhmermann recited a poem against Erdogan that viciously insulted the Turkish president. He employed obscene insults and vulgar racist swear words. He called the poem “abusive criticism,” and stressed several times that he was seeking to make clear what was not permitted in Germany, what traverses the boundaries of the freedom of satire and was punishable.

He was reacting to the attempts of the Turkish government to censor a song, broadcast on March 17 by ARD and entitled “extra 3,” that mocked Erdogan. This satirical song had not personally vilified Erdogan, but criticised—completely legitimately—the limiting of press freedom, the persecution of critical journalists, the suppression of the Kurds and other human rights violations in Turkey.

Nevertheless, the Turkish government summoned the German ambassador and demanded that the satirical song be deleted. The ambassador declined to do so, with reference to the freedom of expression, but the German government did not make the incident public, and did not take a position.

When the parliamentary deputy Sevim Dagdelen (Left Party), who had spoken to the ambassador, reported this, the government came under fierce criticism. It was accused of sacrificing freedom of expression in the interests of the EU deal with Turkey.

Böhmermann’s “abusive criticism” must be seen in this political context. By illustrating what, in contrast to “extra 3,” is not permitted, he provoked a debate. It is not “abusive criticism, but playing with it,” as Der Spiegel put it, and is therefore protected as freedom of expression.

The approval of criminal proceedings against Böhmermann reveals the true character of the German government. Last year, Merkel was celebrated as the refugees’ chancellor, whose “welcoming culture” stood in contrast to those who sought to close off the borders.

At the time, we explained that Merkel was not concerned for the fate of the refugees but for the preservation of the European Union, which Germany needed “in order to again play the role of a world power.”

But after concluding the deal with Erdogan, refugees fleeing war who made the life-threatening sea crossing over the Aegean are being locked up, mistreated and brought back to Turkey, where the Turkish government detains them and deports them.

In response to the growing criticism of the EU’s refugee policy, the German government has acted with the same methods as Erdogan: suppressing and persecuting dissenting voices.

Turkish government sending Syrian refugees back to war

This video says about itself:

Turkey is sending Syrian refugees back to war zone, claims Amnesty

1 April 2016

Is Turkey a safe country for Syrian refugees?

Amnesty International doesn’t think so.

And with Europe’s deal on returning migrants there taking effect from Monday, “the rights group claims that Ankara has been forcing thousands of Syrians to go back to their war-torn homeland.

“The Turkish government needs to stop this blatantly illegal and inhumane practice’.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Turkey sends refugees back to Syria

Today, 18:21

Turkey indeed actively sends Syrian refugees back to war zones. According to research by the NOS in the Turkish province of Hatay. Eyewitnesses and refugees themselves declare that almost daily buses with refugees cross the border, including in recent days.

Amnesty International wrote two weeks ago in a report that there has been refoulement for over a thousand people in recent months. Nevertheless, last week Monday the EU-Turkey deal started, and the first expulsions of refugees from the Greek islands to Turkey. Turkey strongly opposed the allegations of Amnesty International.

Buses across the border

Correspondent Luke Waagmeester visited Hatay in response to the Amnesty report. He met eyewitnesses who saw buses with Syrian men, women and children cross the border.

He also met people living in the border area, relatives of refugees who have been sent back and a human rights lawyer who collected many files on the refoulements.


“Two days ago I saw there also four large buses passing by. Children and families,” says Yunus Dolgun. He lives near the border in Hatay.

They went according to Dolgun to the border at Cilvegözü, a border town 50 kilometers west of Syrian Aleppo. “Even last night I saw three minibuses over there. From Antakya to Cilvegözü, from there to Syria.”


“Migration Offices in cities across the country bring refugees here, and from here they go to the border at Cilvegözü. From there they will be deported,” said human rights lawyer Hatice Can, who has collecting eyewitness statements for a number of months.

Can gets those statements regularly to the local immigration office in Hatay. “They say it is not their business. But they do not deny in front of me loudly that deportations happen here.”

Syrian Mahmoud Bitar has been living in Hatay for two years. His cousin fled four times to Turkey, and was sent back four times. “She was already in Turkey and ran into an ambush of the border police. The next day they were deported by bus to Syria. The last time was in February.”

Bitar: “The refoulements do happen, no doubt, I’ve seen them with my own eyes and I have friends on the Syrian side of the border who see it happen. I do not know why the Turkish authorities and Europeans close their eyes to it… and pretend it does not exist.”

War zone

The area where the refugees are sent back to is directly a war zone. Hatay is located on the Syrian border, near Aleppo. In Aleppo there has been since the beginning of the war, five years ago, heavy fighting between ISIS, other opposition groups and the Syrian army.

Eyewitness Yunus Dolgun sees from the roof of his home the refugee camp Atimeh, just across the border in Syria. “This entire region is under the control of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front. You may wonder if the people who are sent back are certain to stay alive.”

Turkey denies

The Turkish government in Ankara denies the existence of deportations. …

A few weeks ago, the EU reached a deal with Turkey on the refugee issue. For every illegal refugee who is taken back to Turkey, Europe takes one Syrian. Turkey also receives three billion euros extra for refugee relief.

HELPING MIGRANTS IN EUROPE? You might be charged with human smuggling. Here’s a look at anti-migrant policies across Europe. [WaPo]