MEPs denounced hundreds of arrests by the Turkish government, carried out in an attempt to censor criticism over its military assault of Afrin, in a resolution on Thursday.
Members of 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, in a resolution approved on Thursday by show of hands.
MEPs said they are seriously concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the Turkish assault and warn against continuing with these disproportionate actions.
Massive crackdown on civil society and press freedom
The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt of 16 July 2016 is currently being used to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition, MEPs stressed, reiterating their strong condemnation of the failed military takeover. Since then, more than 160 media outlets have closed and Turkey’s civil society faces a massive crackdown, they say.
MEPs urged 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 national 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 Kılıç, 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.
EU funds for Turkey conditional on improving track record
The funds destined for Turkey under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) should be conditional on improving its record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, MEPs reiterated.
They called on EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the EEAS, the Commission and the member states to continue to raise the situation of human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, journalists and academics in detention with their Turkish interlocutors.
In November 2016, MEPs called for a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey, even though the country should remain “anchored” to the EU.
Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended if proposed changes to the constitution go ahead, as these go against EU membership criteria, warned MEPs in July 2017.