If you or I were in Turkey, opposing the illiberal authoritarian regime of Dictator Erdogan, we would risk being thrown out of our jobs, having our homes trashed by thugs, imprisoned or being quietly dragged away at night and shot. Erdogan's fifteen year regime has used every legal means plus emergency powers to repress free speech and democracy in Turkey.
Some 60,000 are held in 'emergency detention'. 150,000 public sector employees have been thrown out of their jobs since 2016, following a purge of the armed services in 2013 in which commanders not loyal to Erdogan were jailed at show-trials. Police, judiciary and universities have been purged of potential opponents, but above all Erdogan has complete control over news media and has jailed hundreds of independent journalists. 150 media outlets were closed after 2016, and government censorship is active and present in all others. All news in Turkey is Erdogan news. Internet access and use is restricted and any website can be (and are) blocked at the whim of the censors. Even Wikipedia is banned. In the run-up to the election, Erdogan's party got 67 hours of election broadcasting. His biggest rival Ince got 7 hours. the Iyi party got 12 minutes.
Yet despite all this, people still communicated. Somehow they managed to meet and talk, to canvas, to spread the message. 87% of voters turned out to vote, and despite the repression and crackdown, Erdogan managed only a slim parliamentary majority. People organised themselves to guard polling stations and ballot boxes from Erdogan's thugs. Even Kurdish voters, some of whom faced an 8km walk to cast their votes, passed the magic 10% threshold as their HDP party gained 12%, despite the party leader having been imprisoned by Erdogan.
Free speech. Free association. The right to form political parties. Erdogan has trampled on all these most fundamental rights - yet still somehow he failed to win the victory he needed. Universal suffrage and most of all the secret ballot have kept democracy alive in Turkey. They are the most precious of our rights, and worth our blood to defend.
We need to learn from the Turks the ways in which democracy can be nurtured under an illiberal regime.