COPENHAGEN, 12 October 2018 – Following a wave of detentions in Turkey in recent days, the leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee expressed concern that authorities were targeting political opponents in advance of local elections scheduled for March 2019.
Some 90 people were reportedly detained by Turkish police on Tuesday over suspected links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The People’s Democratic Party reports that more than 200 people have been detained over several days, including dozens of party administrators and members.
Following these reports, the officers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Chair Margareta Kiener Nellen (MP, Switzerland), Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (MP, Germany), and Rapporteur Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus) issued the following statement:
“The widespread detentions and harassment of political opponents in Turkey must stop. Particularly with local elections coming next year, it is crucial that parties and candidates can present their views and qualifications free of pressure from the government. The very real security concerns faced by Turkey must not be misused by the authorities to target their opponents,” they said.
They continued: “Already there are dozens upon dozens of municipalities that are run by trustees installed by the government in place of their duly elected mayors. It is simply unacceptable that voters’ will is overturned in this way, and we call on the authorities to stop this practice.”
The officers noted that in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document all participating States, including Turkey, agreed to “ensure that candidates who obtain the necessary number of votes required by law are duly installed in office and are permitted to remain in office until their term expires or is otherwise brought to an end in a manner that is regulated by law in conformity with democratic parliamentary and constitutional procedures.”
Kiener Nellen, Link and Hadjiyianni expressed their hope for continued constructive engagement with Turkish parliamentarians within the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on all challenges facing Turkey and the OSCE.