President Obama has the opportunity to address serious human rights concerns with world leaders who will be in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit this week. In particular, he must address the continued repressive security operations in east and southeast Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish government’s onslaught on primarily Kurdish towns and neighborhoods, which includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk. Water and electricity services have been cut in some areas, and Amnesty International has received reports of security forces barring ambulances from reaching hospitals.
The curfews have been imposed since July 2015, when the peace process between the government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) broke down.
“While the president plays host to these leaders, he must seize the opportunity to press upon them to uphold human rights in their own countries,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for Europe. “So far Turkey has faced very little global criticism on this issue, as the international community has focused more on enlisting Turkey’s help in the refugee crisis. While that remains a critical issue, these continued human rights violations cannot be overshadowed.”
Turkish authorities have prevented independent observers such as human rights organizations from entering areas under curfew, making it difficult to form an accurate picture of what is going on. People speaking out against abuses have been subjected to threats, criminal investigation and other forms of harassment.
Amnesty International USA will hold a protest outside of the Brookings Institution when President Erdogan speaks there on March 31 at 11:30 am.