Best columns: International
One view available: pro-Erdogan
The Guardian (U.K.)
How can a democratic referendum take place when voters hear only one side of the issue? asked Kareem Shaheen. Turks will vote next month on whether to amend the constitution to grant sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has been in power since 2003, first as prime minister and then—after changing the laws to give the presidency more power—as president. If Turks approve Erdogan’s proposed constitutional changes, he will be able to rule with nearly total control until 2029. The vote is being held under the state of emergency imposed after a failed coup attempt last July. Since then, Erdogan has arrested tens of thousands of journalists, opposition politi-cians, bureaucrats, judges, teachers, and lawyers— in effect, the entire educated class that opposes him, and he has purged the police and military. This is “oppression on a grand scale,” and it has gutted the Turkish news media, leaving only pro-Erdogan outlets. The government claims that anyone voting no to Erdogan’s attempted power grab will effectively be supporting terrorist groups like ISIS and the Kurdish separatist PKK. This “intimidation of the No campaign” could, of course, be a sign that the government fears the electorate might reject its constitutional changes. But you’d never know that from Turkish media. As one media official told me, “Turkey debates in whispers right now.”
Terrorists use prisons for networking
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia’s prisons are failing to rehabilitate terrorists, said Hana Hanifah. In the past two years, two Islamic extremists have been released from prison only to kill again, both in the name of ISIS. Afif Sunakim was set free in 2015 after serving five years for attending a terrorist training camp; five months later he led a terrorist attack on a Jakarta mall, killing four. Another convicted terrorist, Juhanda, firebombed a church, killing a toddler, just months after being released. Clearly, Indonesia needs to improve its deradicalization programs in prisons. These programs currently lack “enough money or political will” to be successful. Meanwhile, over-crowding “allows for the exchange of extremist ideas” among prisoners, while guards are “often intimidated by the charisma of convicted terrorists.” Part of the solution is money. Agencies that can’t even feed prisoners properly “leave their inmates vulnerable to being recruited by well-funded and charismatic extremist groups.” The other part is communication: Prisons, parole officers, and therapists must work together to monitor inmates during and after incarceration. Terrorist prisoners “are one of the few threats that are easy to identify.” There’s no excuse for Indonesia to release extremists without ensuring they are no longer a menace.