In an urgent appeal to the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, 33 members of the Council of States and National Council have called for pressure on Turkey over human rights violations and urged the government to postpone ratification of the country’s new free trade agreement with Ankara until Turkey implements the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, reported ANF News.
Swiss lawmakers highlighted their commitment to human rights values, asking Swiss authorities to put pressure on Turkey.
In the letter, the 33 legislators stressed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has led the country down an increasingly authoritarian path. “He has systematically marginalized the various forms of opposition in the country, silenced or co-opted critical media, dismissed independent judges and replaced them with his partisans, and imprisoned many journalists and other activists.”
Reference was also made to the 2020 democracy index by the Freedom House, which lists Turkey as an “unfree country.” “The U.S. State Department’s 2019 Human Rights Practices Report further notes that the government has curtailed fundamental freedoms and eroded the rule of law under broad anti-terrorism legislation,” it added.
Erdoğan’s “bellicose foreign policy”
Erdoğan’s foreign policy has also become increasingly “warlike” over time, the Swiss MPs note: “In recent years, he has attacked the Kurds fighting the jihadist group ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and is carrying out military interventions in northern Iraq in total violation of the country’s sovereignty. He has encouraged Azerbaijan to resort to force to settle a territorial conflict with Armenia. In the conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia and in Libya, the Turkish state has recruited and sent mercenaries to these countries in total violation of international law.
President Erdogan has also sought to pressure a number of countries, including Switzerland, to extradite Turkish nationals he blames for the failed 2016 coup.”
Call for support for the HDP and Istanbul Convention
The letter goes on to say, “In this context, we believe that Switzerland has a key role to play. We call on you to urge President Erdogan and his government to immediately end the crackdown on dissenters at home and abroad, to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and to reverse the authoritarian course the country has taken. We demand that President Erdogan halt the ban on the HDP and reverse the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.
Reminding Turkey of its obligations
It also seems reasonable to us that Switzerland reminds Turkey of the obligations it entered into by ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, we call on the Federal Assembly to postpone the ratification of the new free trade agreement between Switzerland and Turkey as long as Turkey does not implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. We deeply believe in the continuation of Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition and the values that the Confederation defends, and we are convinced that this urgent appeal will be heard.”