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NEWS

Fair Trials calls on EU to protect dissidents targeted by authoritarian regimes

admin - May 1, 2018 - INTERPOL

On Monday 30th April 2018, Fair Trials wrote to the President of the European Commission, urging the commission to prevent Turkey from abusing INTERPOL’s processes to persecute its critics.

Turkey’s government has taken increasingly authoritarian steps against its own citizens since the failure of the coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. 50,000 people have been arrested under the pretext of preventing terrorism, including journalists, academics, human rights activists and other political opponents of the regime. The European Court of Human Rights, among many others, have condemned the crackdown, which poses a real threat to the rule of law in Turkey.

This persecution does not stop even when individuals have fled Turkey, leaving their homes and families behind. Unfortunately, the Turkish government has been able to use INTERPOL’s processes to pursue dissidents and political refugees living abroad. Last year Dogan Akhanli, a respected German-Turkish writer, was arrested in Spain after Turkey issued a Red Notice for him through INTERPOL.

Similar tactics have been used to detain the former leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, Salih Muslim, and to extradite Abdullah Buyuk, who had fled Turkey and sought asylum in Bulgaria. The Turkish government also lists the names of alleged terrorists on a website, offering financial rewards for information from foreign countries leading to their capture. One of the people listed, Bahar Kimyongur, a Belgian activist and journalist who was also subject to a Red Notice until 2014, when Fair Trials wrote to INTERPOL calling for its removal.

Turkey is using these methods, and INTERPOL’s processes, to pursue legitimate protesters and human rights defenders and sidestep laws designed to protect them. By putting a price on the heads of its enemies online, Turkey has effectively  used fear to silence its opponents, many of whom have been attacked on European soil. Three Kurdish activists were stabbed in March 2017 by supporters of Turkey’s ruling party – the attack took place outside the Turkish consulate in Brussels.

The EU must use its political voice and its diplomatic influence to end these dangerous and undemocratic practices. EU institutions, and the heads of government of the EU’s member states must speak up against such abuses, and offer real protection to ensure citizens are not subject to politically motivated arrests.

It is not acceptable for INTERPOL to be open to abuse by regimes which are using it to freedom of expression and threaten the lives of people who have sought refuge within the EU, an institution founded on a commitment to democracy and human rights. That commitment demands journalists, political activists and others who have fled oppression elsewhere find real safety, rather than living in fear of arrest, extradition or assault.

Read our letter to the European Commission here

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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