HRW slams Turkish president’s disregard for human rights and democratic values

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The Human Rights Watch slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for trampling over democratic norms and lowering the country’s human rights standards to suit his political strategy. The rights group highlighted that in his rule of 18-long years Erdogan is known to have bent laws and polices to his benefit. His recent strategic move entailed withdrawing the country from Istanbul Convention which propagated gender equality and women safety from any form of violence or ill-treatment.

“President Erdoğan is targeting any institution or part of society that stands in the way of his wide-ranging effort to reshape Turkey’s society,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The latest developments against parliamentary opposition, the Kurds, and women are all about ensuring the president’s hold on power in violation of human rights and democratic safeguards.”

The departure from the treaty angered many rights groups across the country, who warned that such a regressive action could lead to rise in domestic violence cases. “The decision to withdraw is a profoundly backward step in the struggle to protect women’s rights in Turkey and a major blow for all women across the political spectrum,” Roth said. Observers believed that Erdogan exited from the treaty to win the support of Turkey’s conservative faction, who believed that the treaty was endangering family structures and encouraging divorces.

The defenders of Ankara’s exit from the agreement said that the treaty was “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.” They believed that the treaty’s feature of gender equality was encouraging homosexuality as the principle prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They added that LGBT community was gaining acceptance in society using the treaty.

Besides, the rights group also criticised Turkish leader’s abuse of power to suppress the voices of opposition parties and leaders. Earlier this month, in an unprecedented move, Turkish parliament banned the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Erdogan’s ruling AK Party demanding shutting down of HDP accusing it of supporting militant and outlawed group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Read more: Erdogan withdraws Turkey from international accord preventing violence against women

Over the past decade, Erdogan administration has detained thousands of the pro-Kurdish HDP members and dismissed over dozens of its elected mayors. It shows the country’s treatment of opposition groups. Critics have accused Erdogan for crippling the Turkish democratic principles by employing different tactics. The recent one being using the new action plan to ban HDP.

HRW said, “Initiating a case to close down a political party that won 11.7 percent of the vote nationally in the 2018 general election and has 55 elected members of parliament is a major assault on the rights to political association and expression.”

In wake of the country’s complete disregard for human rights, and freedom of speech the rights group urged European Union, which is currently holding its two-day summit, to review its ties with Turkey. “EU leaders should not pretend it is business as usual, while Turkey’s government is escalating its assaults on critics, parliamentary democracy, and women’s rights,” Roth said.

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