54 U.S. Senators urge President Biden to pressure Turkey on human rights violations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a show of bipartisan condemnation of the domestic policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. Senate have called on U.S. President Joe Biden to pressure Turkey to ensure standards of human rights are observed.

In the letter, 54 Senators accuse Erdogan of marginalizing his political opposition and silencing critical media, in addition to imprisoning journalists and independent judges. The letter paints a grim picture of the human right situation in Turkey:

The picture of Turkey painted by the Senator’s letter is grim Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken the country down an increasingly authoritarian path. He has systematically marginalized domestic opposition, silenced or coopted critical media outlets, purged independent judges and replaced them with party loyalists and jailed scores of journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Turkey behind only China in number of imprisoned media workers. Freedom House rated Turkey ‘Not Free’ in its 2020 Freedom in the World Report. And the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices noted: ‘under broad antiterror legislation the government restricted fundamental freedoms and compromised the rule of law.'”

The Senators go on to urge the Biden Administration to pressure Erdogan to end the suppression of opposition in Turkey and abroad and to immediately release all political prisoner and prisoners of conscience.

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have been strained over a number of issues. The Biden Administration has criticized Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, in addition to its encroachment on the economic interests of Greece —a NATO ally — and Cyprus — a close NATO partner — in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as Turkey’s insistence on a “two-state solution” in Cyprus in explicit violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue.