US Senators urge Trump to demand Turkey’s Erdogan respect Human Rights

A group of US senators led by John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bob Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday calling on the administration to urge Turkish autocratic President Tayyip Erdoğan to stop harassing employees of the US diplomatic mission in Turkey, to respect human rights and to uphold democratic values, Senator McCain’s official website announced on Wednesday, the Stokholm center for Freedom reports.

Citing several recent incidents including the arbitrary arrest of two US Consulate employees and the attempted arrest of a third, the detention of top Amnesty International officials, the sentencing by a Turkish court of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak and the brutal attack by Turkish security personnel on peaceful demonstrators protesting Erdoğan’s visit to Washington, D.C., the senators urged President Trump to demand that the Erdoğan government respect human rights and the rule of law.

The letter was co-signed by Senators Ben Cardin, John Boozman, Chris Van Hollen, Marco Rubio, Richard Durbin, John Cornyn, Chris Coons, Martin Heinrich, Edward Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Jeanne Shaheen and Bernard Sanders. 

Underlining the increasing level of human rights violations in Turkey by the Erdogan regime, the letter said:

“We recognize Turkey’s strategic importance as a longtime NATO ally and a traditional source of stability and democratic values across the Middle East and the wider region. However, over the past several years, Erdogan and his allies have corroded Turkey’s democracy by mounting an assault on the rule of law, using sweeping state of emergency authorities to stifle fundamental rights including free speech, undermining the independence of the judiciary, and quashing any expressions of opposition. In addition to the arrest of our consulate staff, Turkish authorities have arrested top officials of Amnesty International, and sentenced Wall Street Journalist Ayla Albayrak to two years in prison in absentia.”

In the bipartisan letter to the Trump administration, President Erdoğan was also accused of bringing brutality to American soil:

“The Erdogan government is exporting this brutality to our soil. In May, a pro-Erdogan group, which included Erdogan’s security personnel, brutally attacked peaceful demonstrators on Lafayette Square who gathered to protest the visit of President Erdogan to the United States. Nine people were hospitalized, and as far as we know, there was no disciplinary action taken against the security personnel nor a public condemnation from your Administration.”

The senators’ letter ended with a strong emphasis on a demand for a relationship between the US and Turkey “based on a shared commitment to human rights and rule of law”:

“We support the State Department’s decision to suspend non-immigrant visa services at our Embassy and Consulates in Turkey, but encourage you to take steps to mitigate potential impacts on those members of society who may rely on those services. We urge you to send a clear message to President Erdoğan that the United States will not tolerate this type of behavior and that any cooperation must be based on a shared commitment to human rights and rule of law.”

On May 16, members of President Erdogan’s security detail took part in a violent brawl with a group of protesters outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Washington while Erdogan

was paying an official visit to the country. At least 11 protesters were injured.

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