Italian journalist blocked from entering Turkey: "Turkish authorities do not want the news to get out"
Italian journalist Giuseppe Acconcia, who was invited to the Aegean School of Human Rights workshop, was unable to attend the workshop due to an "entry ban" on Turkey. Acconcia, who was invited to speak at the session entitled "Current Forms of Authoritarian Politics", made his speech through a video he sent to the workshop, as he was prevented from entering Turkey.
In his video, Italian journalist Giuseppe Acconcia said, "The aim of today's meeting was to discuss current forms of authoritarianism, forms of populist reaction that sometimes border on fascism. But the Turkish authorities prevented me from entering the country at Izmir airport."
"As a researcher and reporter, I have been following developments in countries affected by the Arab Spring, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Turkey, which I will briefly mention in this video," said Acconcia, who is a journalist and teaches political sociology at the University of Padua (Italy).
"IT IS VERY SAD THAT THOSE WHO TAKE A STAND ON THE KURDISH QUESTION DO NOT HAVE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND EXPRESSION"
"It is really sad that there is no freedom of movement and expression for those who criticize the Turkish authorities' stance on the Kurdish issue," Acconcia said and recounted:
"In 2015, we were unjustly deported because we had reported on the struggle of the Kurds in Rojava against the jihadist militias of ISIS. We were several journalists who were detained at the border for a few days and then deported. At the time, Turkish authorities said that this decision would be reversed in a few years, but it seems that seven years later the decision is still valid."
Acconcia considers the ban on his entry into Turkey an attack on freedom of expression, "because the Turkish authorities do not want the events in the region to be publicized. We know that the Turkish state has established a buffer zone to prevent the continuation of Rojava, as well as its attacks on cantons like Kobane and Afrin for the same reason. We know about the attacks on Northern Syria, Iraq and Turkish Kurdistan, especially with the outbreak of the Ukraine war."
Acconcia continued his speech as follows:
"These attacks were part of the attitude in Turkey that prevented Kurdish politicians and party leadership, especially the HDP, from exercising politics. This is how the Turkish authorities have responded to the Kurdish issue in recent years. After the failed coup attempt of 2016, these attitudes have been extended to writers, journalists, researchers and others who have expressed their opposition to the Turkish government. Just think of what happened to the signatories of the Academics for Peace petition."
"I think this point is quite critical and I would like to make a few points that I would like to bring up in our discussion today. In 2011, when I was following the events of the Arab Spring, I saw how those who participated in the protests, regardless of their different backgrounds (youth, women, workers, Islamists or soccer fans), fought together for more rights and could unite under a slogan like 'bread, freedom and social justice'."
"This was achieved because people came together through alternative networks. These people occupied public spaces in their countries and fought for more rights and opportunities. Today I wanted to talk specifically about my work on the Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt, where the state did everything it could to prevent these demands from becoming a reality. First with the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2012-2013 and then with the military coup of July 3, 2013, the struggle entered a new phase, which can be considered the beginning of a new kind of authoritarianism.
"The military regime has managed to establish a harsher and stricter regime than that of Mubarak. According to Amnesty International, there are 60,000 political prisoners, and the right to assemble and demonstrate has been banned by newly introduced laws. Many political prisoners are now imprisoned under the guise of the "war on terror" simply for expressing their opinions, and they are intimidated by the regime through a variety of methods, including exile to prolong trials.
"I am not referring only to Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters," Acconcia went on to note, "but also leftists, communists and all segments of society are under pressure from the regime. Therefore, we can safely claim that the military regime is much more brutal than in the past." Another example is Tunisia. After the 2011 uprising, the country was full of hope. This hope was based on the new constitution adopted in 2014. The main thrust of the constitution was to give more space to civil society and all sectors in general. The same can be said for LGBT rights and women's rights. But with the presidency of Qais Said, the government started to slide towards populism."
"WE ARE FACING A NEW TYPE OF AUTHORITARIANISM"
"Populism is a tool used by many authoritarian regimes not only in North Africa and the Middle East but also in Europe," Acconcia pointed out:
"In this respect, we can refer to the current situation in Italy, where Meloni, as the leader of a post-fascist structure, will be the country's first female prime minister. Populism is therefore not exclusive to North Africa and the Middle East. There are political structures on both the right and the left that adopt populist positions. We can count groups such as the 5-Star movement among them. Therefore, Tunisia can be considered as a new example of the new type of populism and authoritarianism.
Coming back to Turkey, I have already mentioned that there has been an attack on the freedom of expression of the Academics for Peace. Even my deportation can be seen as part of the same policy. It is proof that human rights are under attack by the Turkish authorities and that we are facing a new type of populist authoritarianism that must be prevented and fought."
"We have seen a period when President Erdogan acted as a mediator in Ukraine. During this time, the human rights violations in Turkey ceased to appear in the mainstream media. Repression by the Turkish authorities continues in everyday life, as we can see in examples such as the case of Bogazici University. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to discuss these and other issues in detail, but I am sure we will have the opportunity to do so at another event. I would like to take this opportunity to send my regards to the women in Iran who are fighting against the obligation to wear the hijab and have been targeted by the Iranian regime."