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MEPs call on Turkey to lift state of emergency, denounce arrests

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MEPs call on Turkey to lift state of emergency, denounce arrests

Turkey EU

(STRASBOURG) - MEPs denounced Thursday the arrests by the Turkish government as it attempts to censor criticism over its military assault of Afrin, and expressed serious concern about its humanitarian consequences.

In its resolution, the European Parliament condemned the recent arrests of journalists, activists, doctors and ordinary citizens for expressing their opposition to Turkey's military intervention in the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in Syria, and warn against continuing with its "disproportionate actions".

The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt of 16 July 2016 is currently being used to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition, say the MEPs, who reiterate their strong condemnation of the failed military takeover. Since this, more than 160 media outlets have closed and Turkey's civil society faces a massive crackdown.

MEPs are urging the Turkish authorities to:

  • lift the state of emergency in the country;
  • immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained for simply carrying out their legitimate work, exercising their freedom of expression and association, or without proof, including EU citizens such as the German journalist Deniz Yücel and the four Cumhuriyet journalists, who are still behind bars;
  • drop charges against the Finnish-Turkish Ayla Albayrak, who has been convicted by a Turkish court in absentia;
  • release one of the leading NGO leaders, Osman Kavala, as his arrest is politicised and arbitrary;
  • drop all charges against Amnesty International's Turkey president, Taner Kiliç, and his co-defendants, as no concrete evidence has yet been submitted against them;
  • reject capital punishment and respect the European Convention on Human Rights;

The Parliament urges that funds destined for Turkey under the EU's Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) should be conditional on improving its record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The resolution calls on the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini and EU Member States to continue to raise the situation of human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, journalists and academics in detention with their Turkish interlocutors.

Talks for Turkey to join the EU began in 2005. After an attempted coup d'état in 2016, Turkey imposed a state of emergency, allowing the government to bypass the rule of law and silence political opponents. The EU says that the country can't join the European Union unless the human rights situation improves. Talks on Turkish accession effectively stopped in 2017, following the passage of the constitutional referendum.

Further information, European Parliament

The adopted text will be available here (08.02.2018)

EP Research study on Media freedom trends 2017: Turkey (May 2017)

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