Turkey: MEPs strongly condemn repression of opposition

  • All political parties in Turkey must be able to freely and fully exercise their legitimate functions 
  • Democratically elected mayors have been removed from office and replaced by unelected trustees 
  • EU Delegation to Turkey must observe trials and speak out against breaches of human rights 
  • Progress in EU-Turkey relations also depends on situation of human rights and rule of law 

Deep concern expressed by MEPs over constant attacks and pressure on Turkish opposition parties, in a resolution adopted on Thursday.

MEPs condemn the repression of opposition political parties, particularly the Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP, and urge the Turkish Government to ensure that all parties can freely and fully exercise their legitimate activities in accordance with the basic principles of a pluralist and democratic system.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday by603 votes in favour, 2 against and 67 abstentions, MEPs strongly condemn the indictment refiled by Turkey’s Chief Public Prosecutor at the Constitutional Court seeking the dissolution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP, the third largest political party in the Turkish Parliament, and a political ban on nearly 500 HDP members. The case against the HDP is the culmination of a years-long crackdown which has seen thousands of party members, executives, MPs, local councillors and co-mayors tried, mainly on terrorism-related charges.

Allowing the HDP to participate unhindered in Turkey’s democratic institutions is one simple way to make Turkish society more inclusive and generate positive momentum towards a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue, MEPs say.

MEPs also condemn the decision made by Turkish authorities to remove democratically elected mayors from office on the basis of questionable evidence and replace them with unelected trustees. They point to the political, legislative and administrative measures taken by the Turkish Government to paralyse municipalities run by the mayors of opposition parties in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

These actions continue to undermine the ability of the political opposition to exercise their rights and fulfil their democratic roles warn MEPs, who call on Turkey to ensure pluralism and respect for the freedoms of association and expression

The resolution calls on the EU Delegation to Turkey to monitor the situation by observing trials, including the ‘Kobanî trial’, making public statements and requesting permission for prison visits.

MEPs warn that, apart from improvements in foreign policy issues, progress on any positive agenda that could be offered to Turkey should be dependent on improvements in the civil and human rights and rule of law situation in the country, including women’s rights, such as those guaranteed by the Istanbul Convention, religious freedom, and the rights of ethnic minorities and the LGBTI community.