US groups ask Obama to press Turkish PM on human rights
AA PhotoA number of leading nongovernmental organizations have sent an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, asking him to press Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to uphold the rule of law and protect political freedoms in Turkey.
The letter from the Foreign Policy Initiative, Freedom House, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and Reporters Without Borders underlines the decades-long alliance between the two nations and asks Obama to make issues like Erdoğan's support for anti-blasphemy laws and freedom of speech a priority in their meetings, based on his "reportedly close personal relationship" with the prime minister.
Turkey has "stalled and in some crucial areas regressed,” the letter said, citing a previous report from the U.S. State Department that drew attention to the arrest and prosecution of journalists and writers. The letter also mentions a recent analysis of Reporters Without Borders that called Turkey "world’s worst jailer of the press” following the arrests.
The ongoing trials of military officers were cited in the open letter as well, as the groups called the recent military cases "a blow to NATO's overall collective capability."
The letter goes on to call on Obama to speak "publicly and privately" about such concerns "about Turkey's backsliding."
"That relationship needs to be based on our shared values, not just shared strategic interests," the letter said. "We urge you to make rule of law and political freedoms a priority in your engagements with Prime Minister Erdoğan.”