U.S. Faults NATO Ally Turkey With Range of Human Rights Issues

The Biden administration faulted Turkey over a series of “significant human rights issues” ranging from allegations of arbitrary killings and torture cases to the jailing of tens of thousands of political foes, including politicians, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

The release late Tuesday of the “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” exposes mounting mistrust on both sides of the alliance and lingering tensions with Turkey under President Joe Biden.

The U.S. leader criticized Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an “autocrat” in a meeting with the New York Times in 2019 and hasn’t called Erdogan since taking office in January.

Below are key U.S. findings from the report, including detentions and purges of tens of thousands of supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in self-exile in Pennsylvania who Turkey says was behind a failed 2016 coup.

  • Civilian authorities maintained effective control over law enforcement officials, but mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption remained inadequate
  • Since the coup attempt, authorities have dismissed or suspended tens of thousands of members of the police force, military and judiciary and closed more than 1,500 nongovernmental organizations on terrorism-related grounds, primarily for alleged ties to Gulen’s movement
  • The government took limited steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish members of the security forces and other officials accused of human rights abuses. Impunity remained a problem
  • Arbitrary arrest and continued detention of tens of thousands of people, including opposition politicians and former members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and employees of the U.S. mission for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech
  • Severe restrictions on freedom of expression, the press and the Internet, including threats of violence against journalists, criminal prosecution of journalists and others for criticizing government policies or officials as well as censorship and blocking websites

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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