Unrest Continues in Turkey After Verdict in Five-Year Corruption Trial
After five years the Turkish court issued 17 life sentences to prominent figures among the government, military and media on Monday. However, the final sentencing of the Ergenekon trial is only part of its significance for the government and the Turkish people. In a country with a long history of military coups, this trial may represent the decline in the military’s influence in the political sphere. Others contend that the trial is an example of government suppression of its opposition. During the past five years there has been a significant change in people’s opinion of the ruling Justice and Development Party, with harsh responses to protests causing it to be perceived as increasingly more authoritarian.
The Egenekon trial is also perceived to be part of an emerging trend in the Turkish judicial system where people have frequently been prosecuted based on wide reaching anti-terrorism laws. The government has been facing an increasing amount of criticism as free speech and expression has been significantly limited in recent years. It is also important to note that government opposition has not been limited to one specific group within the Turkish populace, rather it has been spread throughout a never before seen mixture of people. This trial marks another step towards authority consolidation within the government and has caused a dramatic backlash from the people. As dissatisfaction continues, how far the Turkish protests will go remains to be seen, however an end to the demonstrations does not appear to be coming any time soon.
Featured image courtesy of [Dawid Krawczyk via Flickr]