Turkey slams US State Department comments on southeast
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
REUTERS photoU.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby’s comments regarding the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on southeastern Turkey “do not reflect reality,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said on July 14.
Bilgiç’s remarks came two days after Kirby’s press briefing, in which he said: “We’re obviously aware of the report stating that the Turkish government has not responded to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights – the letter requesting permission for a U.N. team to conduct an investigation in southeastern Turkey to examine potential violations by the security forces during military operations in urban areas.”
On July 11, Human Rights Watch accused Ankara of blocking access to independent probes into alleged abuses against civilians in southeastern Turkey.
Bilgiç said in a written statement that international human rights organizations could “easily” visit Turkey’s southeast.
“As one of the 116 countries offering an open invitation to U.N. special procedures since 2001, Turkey cooperates closely with the related rapporteurs,” he said.
Bilgiç added that the U.N. Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in March, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks in April, and the Turkish co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in May, have all made visits to the southeastern region.
“Moreover, our invitation on May 16 to Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, to visit our country, including the southeast, remains in place,” he said.
“Without knowing all of the truth, Kirby’s comments that we are preventing investigations in the southeast are not compatible with reality,” he added.
Bilgiç also vowed that Turkey will continue its “uninterrupted constructive cooperation” with all U.N. mechanisms on human rights.