U.S. State Department issues critical human rights report on Turkey

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department published its annual human rights report on Turkey. The U.S. State Department report is issued under the authority of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and is critical of the many reported human rights violations in Turkey.

The human rights report of 72 pages counts numerous of violations with regards to unjust court trials, unlawful arrests, restrictions on the freedom of expression, demonstration and gathering and more. National, religious and ethnic components such as Syriacs, Yazidis and Kurds are not allowed to exercise their language, religious and cultural rights in full. A parliamentary law prohibits the use of sensitive terms for non-Turkish components by Members of Parliament on the floor of parliament, and provides for the possibility of fines for violators. The report also criticised the restrictions on freedom of expression and said that almost all newspapers, television channels and Kurdish-language radio stations were closed for reasons of national security under government decree.

With regards to the Turkish invasion into Syrian territory the State Department said that violations and atrocities were committed by Turkey and Turkish-backed extremists against various components of the Syrian people. It also notes that the Turkish Gendarme or military police shot asylum seekers of Syrian and other nationalities trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border, which resulted in the death and injury of many. Syrian refugees living in Turkey face restrictions on their freedom of movement, the report said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, local and regional human rights activists and media organizations earlier also reported that attacks by Turkish forces and allied Islamist extremist factions caused civilian casualties, destruction of infrastructure and displacements. In its invasion into Syria, Turkey and its extremist factions targeted civilians and residential areas where the factions have killed civilians, including Future Party politician Hafrin Khalaf.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also expressed its concern about media restrictions in Turkey. OSCE observers expressed concern about restrictions on media reports and the campaign to restrict the ability of opposition candidates to campaign and express themselves without consequences. The report gives the example of the imprisonment of a former presidential candidate.