European Parliament strongly condemns human rights violations in Turkey

A large majority of the European Parliament (EP) has adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Turkey, emphasizing the structural problems that exist, such as the state of emergency and the arbitrariness of the judiciary, but individual human rights cases are also mentioned.

According to a statement shared on Thursday by the EP’s Dutch member and Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri, the resolution said that “The European Parliament strongly condemned the attempted coup of 15 July 2016; where-as on 18 January 2018 the Turkish Parliament extended the state of emergency in Turkey for another three months; whereas the State of Emergency is currently being used to silence dissent and goes way beyond any legitimate measures to combat threats to national security.

“The European Parliament calls on the Turkish authorities to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, including a clear rejection of capital punishment, and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, including the principle of presumption of innocence;

“Calls on the Turkish Government to offer all persons subject to restrictive measures appropriate and effective remedies and judicial review in line with the rule of law;

“Strongly condemns the decision of the Turkish Parliament to unconstitutionally waive the immunity of a large number of MP-s, paving the way for the current arrests of 10 opposition MP-s and revoking the mandate of 6 opposition MP-s. And condemns the imprisonment of 68 Kurdish municipal mayors and the arbitrary replacement of local elected representatives, which is undermining further the democratic structure of Turkey.”

Piri said in her statement: “The numbers are mind-boggling. More than 100,000 people have been fired and over 50,000 imprisoned in Turkey. Remember that all these people have a face, have a family, and have friends who are hoping that a normalization is still possible.

“The scale of the current crackdown on all democratic opposition voices in Turkey is unprecedented. While the Turkish authorities have the right to bring those responsible for the heinous coup attempt of 15 July 2016 to justice, the state of emergency is currently being used to silence dissent and goes way beyond any legitimate measures to combat threats to national security.

“I expect the EU to be loud and clear on human rights in Turkey. Not only because these are the values that our Union is based upon, and Turkey as a candidate should adhere to them. But also because we risk losing credibility and support by a majority of Turkish society if we don’t stand up for their rights in these dark times.”

Rebecca Harms, a German MEP with the Green Party, told Deutsche Welle (DW) on Thursday that the human rights situation in Turkey is of great concern for Brussels and that EU funds to Turkey must be contingent upon change. “The rule of law in Turkey, as we knew it, doesn’t actually exist anymore,” Harms said. “The level of violence has been raised and there is no more respect for human rights.” She added that if the EU’s customs union is to be expanded, “It must be made clear that this can only happen if Turkey returns to the rule of law.”

TURKISH GOVERNMENT CALLS EP RESOLUTION ‘NULL AND VOID’

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday dismissed the European Parliament’s resolution titled “Current human rights situation in Turkey” and claimed the resolution adopted on Thursday “is far from understanding the current conditions Turkey faces.”

Turkish government defined the resolution as “null and void” and claimed that “As an institution allowing the rags of the terror organization to be hung in its own buildings, it is not surprising that such a resolution has been adopted by the European Parliament.

“This is also the clearest indicator of our country’s and the Turkish people’s rightfulness in no longer being able to take seriously the EP which has long lost its credibility. Therefore, this resolution is null and void for us.”

Responding to the EP’s criticisms regarding Turkey’s state of emergency, the Turkish Foreign Ministry defended that “Adopting effective measures such as the State of Emergency, which is needed to fully eliminate the threats against the existence of our State and our nation’s right to democratic life, is the duty and an incontestable right of the Republic of Turkey.”

“Measures taken as part of the State of Emergency are conducted within the laws and in conformity with our international obligations. These measures are continuously reviewed; our cooperation based on transparency with international organizations continues on these subjects,” it asserted.

The statement stressed on Turkey’s regional challenges in terms of security conditions, and stated the resolution “is nothing but a patchwork of ungrounded claims compiled one after the other from various sources, just for the sake of criticism.”

“The resolution is yet another reflection of the twisted perspective that overlooks the fact that the terrorist coup attempt of FETÖ, a pejorative acronym that Turkey’s political Islamist government has used to smear the civic Gülen movement, on 15 July 2016 in our country targeted, above all, our democratic and legitimate Government and our Constitutional system…”

The statement has also claimed that “the terrorist coup plotters violated Turkish citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, first and foremost the right to life, and they attempted to establish an oppressive government.”

Regarding Turkey’s recently launched Operation Olive Branch against PYD/PKK terrorists in Syria’s Afrin, the ministry reasserted that the operation “is fully conducted in line with the international law and based on the right to self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter, as well as the relevant UNSC Resolutions.”

“From the outset, Turkey clearly expressed its legitimate security concerns, as well as the target, end-goal and principles of the operation… All necessary precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage and any harm to civilians.”

Turkey refuted the EP’s criticisms regarding the country’s fight against terrorism and asserted that Turkey’s “great devotion” in counter-terrorism “demonstrates that some elements within the EP are incapable of comprehending the vital importance of this fight for Europe as well.”

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has also spoken about having EP Turkey Rapporteur Piri thrown out of the Justice Ministry during his time as minister there, pro-government news agency İhlas said.

He told a television programme that he had asked for Piri to be removed from the meeting room after having unsuccessfully requested her removal from a EP delegation to Turkey, and that she had not been allowed to attend the meeting. “When we talked, it was not clear if I was sitting with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or Pennsylvania (the Gülen movement),” Bozdağ said. “So why should I talk to you?”

Bozdağ said that Piri included terrorist allegations in her reports but characterised the information provided by the Turkish government as untrustworthy. “That is why it is not possible for this report to arouse any respect in Turkey,” he said. “You cannot reach true conclusions about Turkey with reports prepared by those who are against Turkey, who are enemies of Turkey, and who support terrorist organisations in order to weaken Turkey.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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