US mission to OSCE calls on Turkey to end state of emergency

US mission to OSCE calls on Turkey to end state of emergency

US mission to OSCE calls on Turkey to end state of emergency

The U.S. mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called on Turkey to bring an end to the ongoing state of emergency, expressing deep concern about the deteriorating state of human rights.

“The United States calls on the Turkish government to end the protracted state of emergency, release those detained arbitrarily under emergency authorities, and take concrete steps to safeguard the rule of law, consistent with Turkey’s own domestic and international obligations and commitments,” Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. mission to OSCE Michele M. Siders said at a meeting in Vienna on April 12.

The U.S. mission’s call came after the Turkish government signaled that the state of emergency would be extended for the seventh time next week. Turkey had imposed the state of emergency following a deadly coup attempt in July 2016, which killed more than 250 people and injured 2,000.

Tens of thousands of people have since been arrested including military and civilian bureaucrats, journalists, civil society representatives and academics accused of having links to outlawed leftist groups or the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have orchestrated the coup attempt.

The European Union and Council of Europe have long been voicing concerns over the prolonged state of emergency in Turkey.

“The United States joins the European Union and other delegations in expressing deep concern about the deteriorating state of human rights in Turkey, in particular the Government of Turkey’s continuing efforts to restrict dissent,” Siders stressed.

The chargé d’affaires of the mission said they were troubled by the ongoing pre-trial detention of Amnesty International Turkey Chairman Taner Kılıç, who has been detained since June 2017.

“We are closely following Mr. Kılıç’s case, along with cases against other respected human rights defenders, journalists, civil society leaders, and opposition politicians — all of whose prosecution under the ongoing state of emergency has chilled freedom of expression. These cases raise serious concerns about respect for judicial independence and the fair trial protections enshrined in the Turkish constitution,” Siders stated.

Siders also noted that OSCE participating states committed “to maintain freedom of expression and freedom of information, consistent with their international obligations and commitments, with a view to enabling public discussion on the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as on lifting the state of public emergency.”

“We firmly believe that freedom of expression, including for members of the media, strengthens democracy and must be protected, particularly in difficult times,” the diplomat said.