New Statesman contributor from Turkey threatened by pro-government media

Ece Temelkuran is targeted for having criticised Erdogan's response to the #OccupyGezi protests.

Ece Temelkuran is one of Turkey's best-known writers: a journalist, a novelist - and a contributor to the New Statesman. She has also been a long-time critic of what she sees as the increasingly authoritarian behaviour of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

When the #OccupyGezi protests erupted in Istanbul on 28 May, soon spreading to the rest of the country, Temelkuran was at the forefront of voices condemning the government's heavy-handed response. Writing in the NS, she noted:

The protests that have now engulfed the country may have begun in Gezi Park in Taksim, the heart of Istanbul. It was never just about trees, but the accumulation of many incidents. With the world's highest number of imprisoned journalists, thousands of political prisoners (trade unionists, politicians, activists, students, lawyers) Turkey has been turned into an open-air prison already. Institutional checks and balances have been removed by the current AKP government's political manoeuvres and their actions go uncontrolled.

But for speaking out, Temelkuran - along with several other prominent journalists - has been subjected to a hate campaign from media loyal to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), and from AKP supporters. On 18 June, the conservative daily newspaper Yeni Safak published a piece headlined "Losers' Club", which singled out government critics including Temelkuran:

 

 

On 21 June, a columnist for another government-friendly newspaper, the Star Gazette, accused Temelkuran of calling for "revolution", and of having told her Twitter followers: "The UN must intervene in Turkey". Temelkuran tells me that both these claims are untrue.

Beyond this, there has been a co-ordinated campaign against Temelkuran on social media, carried out by the AKP's youth wing. Under the hashtag #SenOde ("You pay for it"), pictures of buses destroyed during the #OccupyGezi protests have been circulated next to a distorted photo of Temelkuran, implying that she is personally responsible for the costs of the damage.

 

 

A photo of Temelkuran covered with the words "Never Forget" has also been circulated.

 

 

This campaign, which appears to be co-ordinated, goes beyond the limits of acceptable debate, particularly in the current context. Turkey is ranked 154th out of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. It was named the "world's worst jailer of journalists" by the Committee to Protect Journalists, who identified 232 imprisoned journalists as of December 2012. Several prominent journalists have been assassinated in recent years, notably the writer Hrant Dink.

In the past few weeks, other journalists have experienced similar treatment to Temelkuran, including Amberin Zaman and Ceyda Karan.

 

 

We oppose the attempts to intimidate them into silence.

The author and journalist Ece Temelkuran.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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Caitlyn Jenner: “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder to come out as Republican”

The reality star endorsed the GOP at an event in Cleveland.

On Tuesday, American reality star Caitlyn Jenner reiterated her support for the Republican Party at an event in Cleveland. During the Q&A session organised by American Unity Fund, a conservative LGBT activist group, Jenner said: “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder to come out as Republican.”

Jenner’s endorsement comes despite anti-LGBT amendments made last week to the draft Republican manifesto. The Republican Party is also credited with a wave of proposed bills across the US that would ban transgender people from using toilet facilities for the gender with which they identify; such legislation passed in North Carolina.

“I get it, the Democratic Party does a better job when it comes to the LGBT community, and Obama has been very good from that standpoint,” Jenner said.

“Our best hope to get back to a constitutional government…is in the Republican Party.”

Earlier in the nomination process, Jenner had said that she would like to serve as a “trans ambassador” in a Ted Cruz administration. The idea came after the reality star uploaded a video of her using a women’s restroom in Trump Tower.

“Thank you Donald. I really appreciate it,” said Jenner. “And by the way Ted, nobody got molested.”

Cruz, however, fired back at the remark.

“Frankly, the concern is not the Caitlyn Jenners of the world. But if the law is such that any man if he feels like it can go in a women’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.”

On Tuesday night, another former Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, labelled the transgender community, "the height of absurdity". He compared being transgender to one day deciding to change race.

Jenner’s remarks have been welcomed by socially liberal Republicans. However, others have already voiced their opposition, pointing to the anti-transgender sentiment that is rife in the party:

Jenner has often been criticised for being “out of touch” with the issues faced by transgender people; a criticism initiated by her appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine last year.

The Republican Convention concluded with Trump accepting the presidential candidacy on Thursday evening.