Mar 15 2019

Turkey says U.S. human rights report exposes powers behind failed coup attempt

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the U.S. State Department’s 2018 Human Rights report on Turkey strengthened the perceptions of who was behind a failed coup attempt in July 2016, an allusion to accusations by some government allies in Turkey that the United States was responsible for the bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist government

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a secretive Islamist group, of carrying out the coup attempt, in which 265 people were killed and 1,440 were wounded. Turkish authorities call the movement as Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ), after its leader Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in the United States since 1999. 

State Department report said 217,971 people had been detained in connection with the coup attempt by November last year under a specific section on the situation of political prisoners in Turkey. 

“The report, which contains the views of those, describing supporters of terrorist organisations and circles behind the 15 July terrorist coup attempt as “political prisoners”, is clearly biased. Prepared by the country that shelters the head of FETÖ, the report strengthens the perception regarding the identity of those behind the 15 July terrorist coup attempt against our country,” the Turkish ministry said in a written statement. 

It said the 2018 report contained unfounded allegations, dubious information and biased interpretations, as it had done in previous years.

Washington’s report provided a long list of human rights issues in Turkey, including arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances and torture. It mentioned the arbitrary arrest and detention of tens of thousands of people, including three Turkish employees of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Turkey, restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and violence against women, LGBT people, and members of other minority groups.

The report also cited previous reports prepared by the United Nations and several rights organisations that said Turkish forces might have failed to take necessary precautions to protect civilians from harm during an operation launched last year against the Kurdish-controlled northwestern Syrian town of Afrin. 

The Turkish ministry said: “It was absolutely unacceptable for those responsible of thousands of civilian casualties in the course of operations across the world”, to accuse the Turkish military.

“The ironic accusations towards Turkey by a country whose dark history in human rights is known by the entire world and whose mistreatment of migrants including children has been widely reported even in the past year, is frivolous, to say the least,” it said.