Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that journalists, academics and politicians supporting terrorism should also be considered terrorists.
“There is no difference between those labeled terrorists who hold weapons and bombs, and those who use their pen to achieve their goal,” he said at a dinner with medics. “Their titles as representatives, academics, writers or journalists do not change the fact that they are actually terrorists. An act of terror is successful because of these supporters, these accomplices. In this regard, I think we need to insert a new definition for terrorism and a terrorist in our penal code.”
He added that “there is no middle way,” and that it is an issue of counterterrorism, not freedom of speech.
The president’s statements came two days after a suicide bomb in the capital, Ankara, which killed 37 people.
The government alleges that the bomber was a 24-year-old Kurdish female who trained with the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia. In retaliation, the Turkish army struck at 18 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq. The day before the Ankara bombing, Turkey killed at least 67 militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK.
Erdogan has repeatedly blamed the PKK for bombings, including two previous suicide bombings in Ankara, but the group has not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.
Academics and journalists have circulated petitions for the Turkish state to put an end to its onslaught against Kurdish villages, which have killed hundreds of civilians. Several journalists reporting on Kurds or on alleged links between the government and the Islamic State group have been jailed under the pretext that they are supporting terrorism.
Erdogan has also called for the lifting of parliamentary immunity for five members of parliament, including the co-chairs of the progressive, pro-Kurdish HDP. Last week, the prime minister said that he would officially consider the issue, which could then be put to a parliamentary vote.