You’re not imagining it. The newest Guardian columnist really is an alleged war criminal.

Guardian Face Palm
Support us and go ad-free

If you thought you were imagining it, you weren’t. The Guardian really did just publish an article written by an alleged war criminal.

WTF?!?

On the one-year anniversary of a failed military coup, The Guardian decided to publish an article by Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In it, he spewed propaganda like:

  • “Turkey, a year after the attempted coup, is defending democratic values”.
  • “Western leaders have a choice: stand with the terrorists or stand with the Turkish people”.
  • That his government had “been able to restore the Turkish people’s confidence in public institutions”.
  • “Turkey has set up independent commissions to review the cases of former public officials challenging their dismissals.”

And The Guardian left these assertions unchallenged within the article.

Balance?

The paper did, however, publish another article from Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu – apparently for ‘balance’. In it, he said:

  • “Erdoğan exploited the crisis to lead a purge against all oppositional voices to rule by decree.”
  • “Turkish democracy has given way to a near-dictatorial regime.”
  • “After an illegitimate referendum, held under the state of emergency and in breach of Turkish electoral laws and international standards, the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) imposed a sui generis political system worthy of an authoritarian state… This system enables the president to appoint indirectly all judges and prosecutors. In any event, any judge who contradicts the government faces the risk of immediate removal and even arrest.”

And he concluded that:

Imprisoning MPs, journalists, academics, judges or employing widespread torture is not a defence of democracy. Labelling at least half of your population as “terrorist” is not a defence of democracy. And concentrating power in the hands of one person without any checks or balances is an assault on the very notion of democracy.

Challenging the propaganda

As The Guardian didn’t challenge Erdoğan’s assertions, we will:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
  • He spoke of “defending democratic values” and fostering “confidence in public institutions”. But in reality, he’s been subverting both for his own ends. Dozens of elected representatives opposed to his regime, for example, have been arrested or dismissed. Reporters Without Borders, meanwhile, says his regime has turned Turkey into “the world’s biggest prison for the media profession”. And only recently, authorities detained a number of leading human rights campaigners.
  • He spoke of Western leaders having to choose between standing with terrorists or the Turkish people. But in reality, he has long manipulated the word ‘terrorism’ in order to smear and target his opponents; and to justify his regime killing civilians and anti-terrorist fighters – both at home and abroad.
  • He also took a shot at the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); a movement which the Turkish state has fought against on and off for decades, leading to significant losses on both sides. And as in most conflicts, civilians were often caught in the middle. In recent years, a peace agreement looked increasingly possible. But Erdoğan ended the process in 2015.

Is Erdoğan really a war criminal?

Since 2015, the civil war has caused death and destruction across mostly Kurdish areas of Turkey. And in March 2017, a UN report described the government’s massacre of Kurdish citizens, displacement of hundreds of thousands of people of mostly Kurdish origin, and “use of counter-terrorism legislation to remove from office democratically elected officials of Kurdish origin”.

Five Swedish MPs, meanwhile, recently filed a lawsuit with the country’s public prosecutor regarding Erdoğan’s role in the war. The complaint, which is the first in Sweden targeting a head of state, seeks “punishment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”. If pursued, it could end with an arrest warrant being issued against Erdoğan.

At the same time, a recent report [pdf, Turkish] from the Stockholm Center for Freedom claims that Erdoğan actually had a hand in orchestrating the 2016 ‘coup’ as a pretext to crack down on his opponents. And he’s certainly the person who’s benefited most from the coup attempt. Since the event, a mass purge has seen thousands of people arrested, disappeared or killed; with current estimates suggesting the Turkish state has detained over 118,000 people, sacked over 138,000 from their jobs, dismissed over 4,400 judges and prosecutors, and shut down around 150 media outlets.

Seriously, Guardian. WTF?!?

The Guardian may publish articles critical of Erdoğan’s regime. And it may indeed be good practice to give a voice to all sides in any given story when possible. But it’s also a serious error in judgement to give war criminals a platform to spew their propaganda unchallenged; especially when your paper is usually one of the first voices to call out alleged war crimes when they happen.

Such decisions do The Guardian no favours at all.

Get Involved

– Ask Theresa May and your MP to urge the Turkish regime to resume peace talks with its Kurdish communities; to respect freedom of speech and human rights; and to stop attacking anti-terrorist forces in Syria. Also ask the UK government to stop putting business before human rights in Turkey, and to follow in Germany’s footsteps by suspending arms deliveries to Turkey.

– See more on Turkey at The Canary Global.

– Also join at least 400,000 Brits who have cancelled holidays in Turkey, and support the boycott campaign here.

– Fight back against the war criminals. Join the media revolution by supporting independent news outlets which seek to hold the powerful to account while informing and inspiring the struggle for an alternative. Add more that you like in the comments section:

The CanaryCounter PropaThe InterceptJacobinMedia DiversifiedNovara MediaCorporate WatchCommon SpaceMedia Lens

Featured image via Apadmi

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed