5 Dec 2019 4 years old


As the general election approaches voters are looking to our Parliament to recognise the impact that our foreign policy is having on the safety of innocent civilians not just in the UK but all over the world. Democracy is under attack in Turkey, with trade unions and civil society facing arbitrary criminalisation and state violence. Turkey’s aggressive war politics, not least its attacks on elected Kurdish opposition politicians and military aggression in Kurdish regions (inside and outside its borders) threatens all prospects for peace inside Turkey, across the Middle East and Europe.

At the time of writing the NATO summit is coming to an end with President Erdogan pushing for NATO to declare the Kurdish YPG and PYD as terrorists – if NATO succumbs this will lead to the further criminalisation and oppression of all forms of democratic opposition both within and along Turkey’s borders.

The UK and its NATO allies have armed and supported Erdogan’s oppressive regime, and the EU has allowed the regime’s abuses of human rights, imprisonment of journalists and suppression of freedom of speech to continue without challenge in negotiations over migrations and Syrian refugees. Moreover, we saw recently that Turkey was able to circumvent a US export ban on killer drones with the help of missiles components developed in the UK, and that this has been crucial in helping Turkey become the second biggest user of armed drones in the world[1]. Sales of defence technology and arms to Turkey is emboldening Turkey’s anti-democratic regime, directly contributing to the deaths of innocent civilians in the region and increasing Turkey’s economic reliance on aggressive war politics as the arms industry is now its fastest growing sector.

As Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT), we recognise the significant influencing power the UK has over countries such as Turkey.

And we call on our prospective parliamentary candidates to:  

  • Work with SPOT and our partners to support democracy in Turkey;
  • Call for an immediate end to the aggression of Turkish forces in Syria and for the release of all opposition politicians who have been arbitrarily detained, starting with the HDP’s ex-leader Selahattin Demirtas;
  • Call for the withdrawal of all UK military/armed forces from Syria and region;
  • Call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria and the region;
  • Call for an end to sales of defence technology and arms to the Turkish State and Turkish arms industry;
  • Ensure that any future trade agreement with Turkey includes robust protections for human and workers’ rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  • Prioritise the need for reinstating human rights, democracy and the rule of law in diplomatic relations with the government of Turkey.

As SPOT we want to work with our elected politicians and would like to set up an APPG for democracy in Turkey, which monitors the state of democracy and human rights in Turkey and works through parliament to raise awareness and develop appropriate policy responses.

Ahead of the general election, we hope that our parliamentary candidates will share with us and the public their commitment to human rights, not just at home but also abroad.

Solidarity with the People of Turkey

5 December 2019

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/nov/27/revealed-uk-technology-turkey-rise-global-drone-power)

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