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142 House lawmakers urge Biden to address Turkey’s human rights abuses during NATO summit

By Laura Kelly

July 4, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is urging President Biden to push Turkey to abide by international law while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is in Washington for the NATO Summit between July 9 and 11, raising alarm over “systematic human rights abuses.”

Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) led a group of 142 House members in a letter to Biden sent Tuesday.

“We urge you, President Biden, to prioritize human rights and press the Turkish government to cease its transnational repression campaign, unconditionally release political prisoners, and restore the rule of law,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“Your intervention is crucial to upholding the values of democracy and human rights on the global stage.”

The Biden administration says that it raises its concerns about human rights wherever it observes violations. The State Department’s 2023 country reports on human rights

practices noted that Turkey had “significant human rights issues” and that the government “took limited steps to identify and punish some officials who may have committed human rights abuses.” 

Still, the Biden administration has sought to keep close ties with Ankara, a NATO ally that controls the main passageway between the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea, and has acknowledged the strain of Turkey hosting more than 3 million Syrian refugees stemming from the 2012 civil war in that country. 

The lawmakers, in their letter, call for Biden to exercise “urgent intervention to address Turkey’s non-compliance with international law and its systematic human rights abuses,” and highlight specific instances of transnational repression, saying the Turkish government has sought to “silence” critics like Enes Kanter Freedom, a former NBA player and outspoken critic of Erdoğan. 

The Turkish government has gone after Freedom’s “family in Turkey and placing an Interpol red notice and bounty on him and on many others,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers also accuse Turkey of “Interpol abuses,” including the forcible transfer of more than 100 Turkish nationals with allegations of involvement in the 2016 coup, “with reports of torture, denial of legal rights, and coerced confessions,” they wrote. 

“The UN Special Rapporteur’s letter in 2020 condemned the systematic practice of state sponsored extraterritorial abduction and forcible return of Turkish citizens from multiple countries. Victims face torture, pressure, and humiliation before being deported, with the Turkish government neither denying nor hiding these actions,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“This further underscores the need for urgent intervention to address Turkey’s non-compliance with international law and its systematic human rights abuses.”



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