Green Party Questions Harper Government Silence on Turkish Democracy Crisis

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, today expressed her dismay at the deafening silence from the Harper Conservatives to the deteriorating political situation in Turkey, resulting from a harsh police clamp down on peaceful protesters.

The protesters had initially been seeking to prevent the destruction of the last treed green space in central Istanbul – Gezi Park – that was slated be covered over by a shopping mall development. Heavily armoured Turkish police using tear gas and rubber bullets over-reacted, injuring and hospitalizing many of the protesters. This in turn triggered a much larger series of protests across the country over the continuing deterioration of civil liberties and freedom of the press under the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey currently has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of reporters in jail of any other country and its mainstream media organizations have mainly ignored four days of widespread civilian protests which have now claimed their first fatality. The public information gap has consequently been filled by social media organs that Prime Minister Erdogan attacked as a “social menace.” President of Turkey Abdullah Gul has taken a more conciliatory approach calling peaceful protest a democratic right.

“Social media is not the menace in Turkey or elsewhere,” commented May. “It is governments that think that, just because they have majority power, they try to get away with whatever they can between and during elections.”

International Affairs Critic Eric Walton called on the Turkish government to demonstrate why they deserve a place in the European Union by listening and learning from democratic voices – because this will be expected if their goal to join the E.U is eventually successful.