As the dust settles on the Turkish military’s botched coup, a crackdown has ensued that has spread beyond just finding insubordinate military men. Some 15,000 employees at the education ministry, 8,800 policemen, and 492 clerics have been sacked in addition to the 6,000 soldiers, 2,700 judges and prosecutors, dozens of governors, and more than 100 generals that have been arrested already.
Over 130 media organizations have been shut down in the aftermath of the coup, including 18 TV stations, three news wire services, 23 radio channels, 45 newspapers, and 15 magazines. Twenty-nine publishing houses were also shuttered. That’s in addition to a round of shutdowns by the Turkish government in previous months, including Zaman, one of the most widely circulated publications in Turkey.
A further 189 arrest warrants have been issued for journalists, according to Mahir Zeynalov, a Turkish journalist. In normal circumstances, such a mass roundup would be inconceivable. But the Turkish government has activated emergency rule for the next three months, a tactic repeatedly used by the Turkish military when it overthrew four democratically elected governments between 1960 and 1997.
The Turkish military made a monumental mistake in challenging the democratic legitimacy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party won an absolute majority in last November’s elections. Whatever its intentions, it has enabled Erodgan to further consolidate power and expand his zealous purge of his enemies, real and imagined.