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Jan 17 2019

Let the Turkish Greens travel - EU party

The European Green Party has urged Turkey to return the passports of the co-chairs of Turkey’s Green Party, who remain unable to leave the country despite authorities’ lifting their travel ban.

Eylem Tuncaelli and Naci Sönmez had been due to stand trial starting Jan. 16 in Ankara over charges connected to the co-signing of a statement criticising Turkey’s military action against Kurds in Syria. The trial has been postponed to July, and their travel ban lifted. Yet authorities refuse to return their passports, making it impossible for them to go abroad.

“It is entirely unacceptable that the Turkish co-chairs have been effectively barred from travelling without any official explanation from the authorities as to why they will not return their passports,” European Green Party co-chair Monica Frassoni said in a press statement on Wednesday. “It must be reiterated that Eylem Tuncaelli and Naci Sönmez have only ever promoted peace and the charges against them do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny.”

European Green Party Committee Member Evelyne Huytebroeck said: “This is the second time that the verdict has been postponed. Both Naci and Eylem have done nothing wrong and are desperate to see the charges dropped and focus on doing their jobs helping local communities. This postponement only prolongs the uncertainty over their future. The authorities must return their passports without delay.”

Turkey has imposed travel bans on hundreds of journalists, politicians, teachers, and academics in recent years for suspected links to the Gülen movement, which Ankara believes is behind the 2016 failed coup, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been fighting an insurgency for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast for more than three decades and is labelled a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.