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Can Election Outcome improve Turkey’s Human Rights Record?

Turkey, although under the Western influence, deals with the Middle Eastern political rhetoric. If democracy comes with freedom of speech, then why are critics being detained for peaceful demonstrations?

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has committed brutish human rights abuses, including the life imprisonment of 16 famous, peaceful civil-society activists. Not only this, the recent Washington’s report highlighted a lengthy list of issues in Turkey, including arbitrary killings, people dying suspiciously in custody, torture and forced disappearances.

The report also mentioned the arbitrary detainment of thousands of people, along with three Turkish employees of the US diplomatic mission to Turkey. Other rights violations, such as, limited freedom of speech, press and assembly make Turkey akin to the other Gulf nations, infamous for human rights abuses.

Violence against women, LGBT community, and minority groups is also commonly practiced across the country under Erdogan’s leadership. As a matter of fact, democracy or no democracy, human rights must not be denied.

In 2018, right after winning a new presidential mandate with enhanced executive powers, Erdogan announced the end of countrywide emergency rule, implemented in 2016 after an unsuccessful coup against him.

This move uplifted the hopes of civil-society members, who were expecting the tensions to ease off. There were anticipations that after a couple of mass purges, wherein 200,000 people were detained and over 125,000 civil servants sacked, the president would endorse national reconciliation policies.

Since then, Erdogan has done quite the reverse by widening the crackdown on dissent, targeting human rights defenders, political opponents, and journalists.

Over 50,000 elected positions under local constituencies are there for the taking on March 31. The opposition parties have alleged unfair practices, as electioneering pitched in Erdogan’s favor since the access to government-controlled media was limited. However, they are optimistic about the outcomes and expect the vote counting to be fair.

The election results will certainly determine the human rights development in Turkey.

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