In its recent World Report 2021, the NGO Human Rights Watch has evaluated the situation in different countries. When it comes to the Eurasian country, HRW has not hesitated to point out that the authoritarianism of Erdogan's regime has been consolidated over the past year under the cover of the situation generated by the coronavirus pandemic.
To support this denunciation, HRW is relying on the legislation that Turkey has been adopting to silence and persecute more forcefully the opposition parties, their political representatives and supporters. The report speaks, for example, of the law it presented in April in response to the advance of the virus, which allowed for the early release of prisoners whose sentences were nearing their end. This law, however, excluded prisoners for political or ideological reasons, mainly journalists or politicians linked to the opposition.
Another aspect pointed out by HRW is the persecution that exists on social networks, and the limitations that have been imposed. Last summer, the Turkish government implemented legal measures that expand its capacity to monitor opposition speeches in different media and channels, in order to prevent the spread of certain content. If this content is not removed, the government is liable to do so itself and to fine sites that host such messages.
HRW's 2021 World Report also highlights the deterioration of areas that are essential for the proper democratic development of a country. In this sense, it highlights the interference that Erdogan is carrying out in the judicial sector, not only through the purges he has carried out, but also now with the changes in the structures of the independent bar associations, further dynamiting the situation of the rule of law in the country.
The arrests and charges against some of the opposition leaders, as well as other civil figures, have also been highlighted by HRW. In particular, the organisation has pointed out the persecution suffered by Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtas, who are in a delicate judicial situation due to the interference of Erdogan and the Turkish Executive in the judiciary and the work of the Turkish Prosecutor's Office.
Erdogan is using all the tools at his disposal, regardless of the deterioration of the institutions that the country is suffering from, to strengthen his position in the Presidency of the country. The next elections are planned for the next 2023, but the recent electoral defeats in Istanbul and Ankara have raised the alarm within his party, the AKP, because they are afraid that if the opposition is given time, it will be able to weave a unity candidacy to face Erdogan. This is why the persecution of public figures has become a necessity, thus not only reduces the chances of the opposition to gain prominence, but can also make tension between the parties and the unity concentration more difficult.