PM urged to oppose Turkey crackdown
Activists call on PM to press Erdogan on ‘creeping dictatorship’
KURDISH rights activists urged Theresa May yesterday to oppose Turkey’s “creeping dictatorship” and demand democracy is restored during her visit to the country over the weekend.
The Prime Minister heads to Ankara today following her trade talks with US President Donald Trump. She will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss trade, defence and security.
But the British-based Peace in Kurdistan (PiK) campaign group has urged the Prime Minister to suspend military aid and defence co-operation instead of continuing to identify Turkey as a “priority market” for arms sales.
Britain has sold an astonishing £330 million worth of weapons to Turkey since 2015 with £50m of arms sold since the failed coup of July 2016.
PiK claim this “lamentably short-sighted policy can only strengthen Erdogan’s hand against the democratic opposition” and urged Ms May to use her visit to demand the government change course and return the country to democracy.
Since the coup attempt Turkey has seen the introduction and extension of a state of emergency which has enabled Mr Erdogan and the ruling AKP government to shut down opposition on the pretext of support for terrorism.
Opposition newspapers and TV stations have been forced to close and over 150 journalists have been jailed for “terrorist activities.”
And in November 2016 night-time raids saw the arrest of Peoples’ Democratic Party co-leaders Selahattin Demirta? and Figen Yuksekdag.
A statement from PiK read: “Rather than partnering with Turkey and talking about defence and security, the UK Prime Minister should suspend military and defence co-operation.
“Britain should be demanding that President Erdogan reverse the erosion of democracy, end the crackdown on civil and political rights, cease the attacks on legitimate political organisations and the silencing of independent media.”
The statement also called on Ms May to urge the Turkish president to release detained politicians and reinstate them to their elected posts.
PiK demanded the release of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan as an essential step toward the reinstatement of the peace process and said the Turkish president must end “a vindictive crackdown on all independent Kurdish civil and political organisations” with entire communities placed under martial law.
“Erdogan’s current political course is transforming Turkey into a pariah state and Britain should be no party to it. Britain should be ashamed to do business with a regime that represses its own citizens and denies them basic rights.”