Turkey slams UN over human rights report

UN rights office calls for halt to 'continued deterioration of human rights' in a report described by Ankara as biased.

    Activists regularly organise demonstrations in Turkey against the government they blame for rights abuses [Getty Images]
    Activists regularly organise demonstrations in Turkey against the government they blame for rights abuses [Getty Images]

    Turkey has slammed a United Nations report, which says the state of emergency in the country have led to profound human rights violations, as "biased" and "unacceptable".

    The report, which was published on Tuesday, calls for an end to routine extensions of the state of emergency in place since July 2016, saying that it is used "to stifle any form of criticism or dissent vis-a-vis the government".

    "[The report] contains unfounded allegations matching up perfectly with the propaganda efforts of terrorist organisations," the foreign ministry in Ankara said on Tuesday .

    "[The report] completely ignores the severe and multiple terrorist threats faced by Turkey and particularly, the effects on the protection of human rights of the July 15 coup attempt that targeted the survival of our country and the democratic life of our nation," the foreign ministry added.

    The UN report warned that the high powers handed to the authorities in Turkey following the failed coup attempt of July 2016 had caused "a continued erosion of the rule of law and deterioration of the human rights situation."

    "The sheer number, frequency and lack of connection of several [emergency] decrees to any national threat seem to … point to the use of emergency powers to stifle any form of criticism or dissent vis-a-vis the government," the report, which covers the year of 2017, said.

    The report said that about 300 journalists have been arrested on the grounds that their publications contained "apologist sentiments regarding terrorism" or other "verbal act offences" or for "membership" in "terrorist organisations".

    'Outregeous'

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the amount of people arrested or dismissed are "staggering" in Turkey and findings of the report was "outrageous".

    "The numbers are just staggering: nearly 160,000 people arrested during an 18-month state of emergency," he said in a statement, adding that another 152,000 civil servants were sacked.

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    "Teachers, judges and lawyers dismissed or prosecuted; journalists arrested, media outlets shut down and websites blocked - clearly the successive states of emergency declared in Turkey have been used to severely and arbitrarily curtail the human rights of a very large number of people," he said.

    The Turkish government blames US-based religious leader and businessman Fethullah Gulen and his followers for the coup attempt, while he denies any involvement.

    The government, which has renewed the state of emergency every three months since the attempt, say the purges and detentions are legitimate, and are aimed at removing Gulen supporters from state institutions.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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