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British lawmakers condemn Turkey’s human rights record

May 13  2021

By Ahval

Source: https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-britain/british-lawmakers-condemn-turkeys-human-rights-record

Fifty members of the British parliament have condemned what they said was a “sharp reverse” in Turkey’s progress on human rights under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In a letter to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, the parliamentarians called on their government to join U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration in taking a more vocal stance criticising Turkey.

Washington has increasingly called out the Turkish government’s failure to respect fundamental rights and freedoms since Biden took office in January.

London’s criticism of Ankara has been much more muted in comparison, with government officials rarely going on record to express their disapproval.

However, Turkey’s crackdown against the opposition could no longer be ignored, the cross-party group of British lawmakers said.

The legal cases against Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and Human Rights Association (İHD) co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan demonstrate a “growing pattern which increasingly calls into question whether Turkey actually shares our democratic values and attachment to rule of law”, they said.

Gergerlioğlu was jailed in April after being stripped of his parliamentary immunity. While Türkdoğan, the head of the country’s largest human rights group was arrested in March. The prosecution of both men on terrorism charges is widely seen as politically motivated.   

Britain has traditionally been one of Turkey’s closest European allies, a relationship which has taken on added significance following Brexit.

In January 2017, the two countries signed a £100 million ($140.4 million) defence deal to provide fighter jets for the Turkish air force, hailed at the time as a landmark trade deal for Britain following its decision to leave the European Union.

Turkey is an "indispensable ally”, but London’s friendship should not be unconditional, the parliamentarians said.

“The UK owes the people of Turkey a duty to speak up openly for a return to the path of democracy and respect for human rights and pluralism,” they added.