UK Must Oppose Erdogan’s Creeping Dictatorship

Ahmet Turk, elected HDP mayor of Mardin, 74 years old and with a heart condition, is among hundreds of elected Kurdish representatives jailed by the Erdogan regime

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign Statement:

British Prime Minister Theresa May is embarking on an official visit to Turkey to talk about trade, defence and security with President Erdogan.

There are many more urgent issues that need to be addressed not least of which is the massive crackdown and repression unleashed by Erdogan that shows little sign of abating.

Mrs May must face up to the reality that in President Erdogan has effectively embarked on a political coup in recent months using the failed military coup of July 2016 as a pretext.

Mr Erdogan seized on the crisis and imposed a state of emergency, punishing his political opponents, suspending civil and democratic rights and suppressing the rights to free expression of those who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the coup. These measures are tantamount to creating a dictatorship and pose a danger for the whole of Europe and the world.

The Kurds have become prime targets for the repression despite the fact that they vehemently opposed the attempted coup.

Britain’s only response to the repression has been to make Turkey a “priority market” for arms sales and it has even stepped up the level of sales since the coup flouting all the concerns expressed about escalating human rights abuses and the widespread social repression.

This is a lamentably short-sighted policy and can only strengthen Erdogan’s hand against the democratic opposition at a time when the government in Ankara should be compelled to change course and return the country to democracy.

Rather than partnering with Turkey and talking about defence and security, the UK Prime Minister should suspend military and defence cooperation.

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.

Mrs May should use the meeting with President Erdogan to call for the release of elected politicians, MPs and mayors of the HDP and others who have been detained in the recent purge and call for their reinstatement to their posts so they can serve the people who elected them.

The present authoritarian politics pursued by Erdogan are totally unacceptable. His attempt to impose a military crackdown on the Kurdish people is equally unacceptable.

Erdogan has suspended the peace process with the Kurds and initiated a vindictive crackdown on all independent Kurdish civil and political organisations. Entire communities have been placed under martial law and people have been indiscriminately arrested in their thousands.

Turkey must eventually restart the talks with Kurdish representatives who are recognised as leaders by the people.

In this respect, we believe that the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has shown his unwavering commitment to peace and are convinced that he can play a decisive role in the achievement of a historic reconciliation between the Turkish state and the Kurds. This would mark a major advance for securing peaceful development in the wider region.

We therefore call for the release of Abdullah Ocalan as part of the confidence building measures needed to restore peace and democracy in Turkey.

Full civil and democratic rights must be restored to the Kurds and to all the people of Turkey.

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.

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