The European Parliament urged the EU to suspend membership negotiations with Turkey due to democratic backsliding

The EU parliamentary assembly upheld a motion to call EU bodies to suspend the membership negotiations with Turkey on Wednesday.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, 370 MPs voted in favor and 109 against, which criticizes Turkey for limiting the freedom, and basic human rights under the “executive rule” of President Tayyip Erdogan.

European lawmakers expressed concern about a mass political crackdown on dissidents, jailing a large number of activists, journalists, and human rights defenders.

Before the voting, Kati Piri, the EU rapporteur for Turkey, slammed EU leaders for their silence on the ensuing rights violations in Turkey, saying that their silence is fueling Turkish
President Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarianism.

The European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs upheld a motion on condition of the resolution of the current human rights situation in Turkey in February, which led to a general, non-binding vote to take place on Wednesday.

Piri took to the floor in the European Parliament and started her speech by depicting the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and a philanthropist who has been jailed
since 2017 on charges of overthrowing the government.

“The indictment provides no evidence of Osman or any others planning a protest, let alone
an uprising. One could have a good laugh about this if it wasn’t so serious. This is the level to
which Turkey’s democracy has sank,” said Piri, as she gave details on the Gezi indictment.

“The 657-page indictment deals with the spontaneous wave of anti-government Gezi
protests in 2013, which are now reframed as an outcome of an international conspiracy to
unseat the government.”

Piri questioned the silence of the European leaders as she continued to speak. “Over the last five years, the European Parliament has taken the lead in not only speaking out but asking the commission and the council to use all tools available to send a firm signal to President Erdogan and prevent further backsliding, and to show Turkey’s citizens, who adhere to the values of freedom, human rights, and rule of law, that the EU stands by their side. But so far, our European leaders have failed bitterly to do so.”

Piri did not go into detail on the rights violations that are taking place in Turkey, but she
mentioned a series of topics to present her case for a suspension motion.

Emphasizing Turkey’s lead when it comes to jailed journalists, Saturday Mothers, who are barred from seeking justice for the ones they have lost to the enforced disappearance
practice and the jailed MPs, including the pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas, Piri lamented that by not sending a firm signal to Erdogan, European leaders fail Turkish citizens who adhere to the values of freedom.

The EU rapporteur also pointed to the tens of thousands of Turkish citizens who have been
imprisoned without a fair trial after the failed 2016 coup.

Her draft report previously emphasized “the use of arbitrary detention and judicial and
administrative harassment to persecute tens of thousands of people,” and called on the
Turkish authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained simply for carrying out their legitimate work, exercising freedom of expression and
association, and are being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity.”

Piri labeled the continuance of EU integration talks with Erdogan as “a charade,” and reiterated her stance on her previous draft report to suspend the accession talks.

More than 160,000 civil servants have been expelled by the Turkish government after the
2016 putsch and the post-coup crackdown saw the imprisonment of nearly 80,000 people.

Suspension of Turkey’s EU membership negotiations upheld pending general vote

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