This post by Steve Sweeney originally appeared on Morning Star.
LABOUR MEP Julie Ward has called for sanctions against Turkey after experiencing at first hand the intimidation and harassment dished out to opponents by the Erdogan regime.
She was denied access to jailed opposition MP Leyla Birlik on her visit to Turkey on Monday.
Ms Ward described how Turkey is becoming a “paranoid police state governed by fear” after her vehicle was stopped and searched by armed police.
Military police ordered her and the group she was with — including a lawyer, Ms Birlik’s parliamentary assistant and an interpreter — to stay away from the prison until they could prove they had official state permission to make a visit.
Ms Birlik is one of 10 politicians from the pro-minority Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) jailed by the Turkish state in a crackdown on opposition that has seen the imprisonment of 142 journalists, thousands of government workers, lawyers, academics and the closure of 370 non-governmental organisations, a number TV stations and opposition newspapers.
She has paired with Ms Birlik as part of an international campaign of solidarity with arrested MPs.
Ms Ward accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “waging war on his own fellow countrymen in a systematic deconstruction of democracy.”
Speaking to the Star, Ms Ward said: “I attended a women’s conference on Saturday, where there was singing and dancing. They are so strong and won’t be beaten, but many are expecting a knock at the door in the middle of the night and to be arrested.
“Erdogan is forcing a crackdown on the voice of women and the right of women to participate in public life.”
She warned that the actions of the Turkish state in silencing opposition is “the way that genocide starts.” The attacks on NGOs and MPs are well planned and Ms Ward says the state “couldn’t do this without lists of people and organisations.”
She said the whole population had been cowed into silence. “They can’t protest and know communications are being monitored.”
Ms Ward said there should be a “campaign for sanctions against Turkey,” and that people should question going on holiday to Turkey as by doing so they are funding a brutal regime.