About Howard Eissenstat

Howard Eissenstat is an Assistant Professor of History at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, NY as well as serving as a Country Specialist on Turkey for Amnesty International USA. He earned his doctorate in Modern Middle Eastern History from UCLA in 2007. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Eissenstat writes frequently on contemporary Turkish politics, foreign policy, and human rights issues. He can be reached at heissens@stlawu.edu.
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What’s behind the arrests in Turkey?

Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world.  The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise.  A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made.  In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.

Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Amnesty Goes On the Ground as Repression Worsens in Turkey

A man protects a woman as they face a police officer dispersing protesters who gathered near Taksim square in Istanbul as the police blocked access to the square during the one year anniversary of the Gezi park and Taksim square demonstrations (Photo Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images).

A man protects a woman as they face a police officer dispersing protesters who gathered near Taksim square in Istanbul as the police blocked access to the square during the one year anniversary of the Gezi park and Taksim square demonstrations (Photo Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images).

On the first anniversary of the Gezi Protests and their brutal suppression in Turkey, central Istanbul resembled nothing so much as a city under occupation. Public transportation into the city center was cancelled. Ferry service from the Asian to the European side of the metropolis was ended by the late afternoon. You could leave, but you couldn’t come back.

This is the image of the new Turkey, where dissent is stifled with overwhelming force and massive police presence.

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Turkey’s Dreadful Response to the Soma Mining Disaster

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Last week’s mining disaster in Turkey represented more than simply an industrial accident, but raised very real human rights concerns. The government’s response in the last week, however, have only heightened these concerns.

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3 Reasons Amnesty is Concerned About Turkey’s Mining Disaster

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

The mining disaster in Soma, a small town in Western Turkey, is, by any standards, a shocking tragedy. Amnesty International, in a statement issued today, makes clear, however, that this tragedy could have been averted.

Although the total number killed is unlikely to be determined for some time, at least two hundred are confirmed dead already.

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What’s Behind Turkey’s Crackdown on the May 1 Protests?

Turkish riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters during a May Day demonstration on May 1, (Photo Credit: Burak Kara/Getty Images).

Turkish riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters during a May Day demonstration on May 1, (Photo Credit: Burak Kara/Getty Images).

A History of Protest

For decades, May Day celebrations in Turkey have been an important litmus test of the government’s tolerance for freedom of expression and assembly. At the center of this history have been demonstrations in Taksim Square, arguably the “hub” of modern Istanbul and, where, in 1977, dozens of protesters were killed in what has been termed the “Taksim Square Massacre.”

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How Much Do You Know About Turkey’s “Twitter Trial”?

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

In Turkey, 29 men and women are about to go on trial for Twitter messages they sent during the Gezi Protests last June. This is another ugly step in the Turkish government’s increasingly intense war on dissent. It is important to let the government – as well as those on trial – know that the whole world is watching.

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How Much Do You Know About Turkey’s Social Media Crackdown?

Turkish riot police use water cannon to disperse protesters outside the Supreme Electoral Council on April 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Adam Altan/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkish riot police use water cannon to disperse protesters outside the Supreme Electoral Council on April 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Adam Altan/AFP/Getty Images).

Despite a number of disputes over vote counts and numerous allegations of impropriety,  the municipal elections in Turkey held this past Sunday clearly gave the Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP a resounding victory.

Just as clearly, however, government actions in the lead up to  elections, along with statements since, have given Turkish human rights advocates ample cause for concern.

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A New Low for Internet Freedom in Turkey

People hold placards reading 'Will you censor the streets?' during a demonstration against new Internet controls approved by the Turkish Parliament (Photo Credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images) .

People hold placards reading ‘Will you censor the streets?’ during a demonstration against new Internet controls approved by the Turkish Parliament (Photo Credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images) .

With a little over a week to go before important municipal elections, the Turkish government blocked access to Twitter for millions of its citizens late last night.

Writing from Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey described the move as “a desperate and futile measure, the latest move in the AKP’s clampdown on freedom of expression.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST