A group of US senators have introduced a new legislation to address Turkey’s growing human rights abuses, a move that follows President Joe Biden’s recognition of the Armenian massacre at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Led by Senator Ed Marky of Massachusetts, the Turkey Human Rights Promotion Act is designed to hold the government in Ankara responsible for its rights abuses since a botched coup in 2016.
Ever since the failed attempt to remove him from power, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been overseeing a nationwide campaign of arrests and censorship that has continued to this day.
According to some reports, Turkey has so far arrested more than 60 thousand people with regards to the coup and continues to stifle opposition within its borders and beyond.
Under former US President Donald Trump, Turkey used its NATO membership to get away with many illegal activities.
It launched a military invasion into neighboring Iraq and Syria under the guise of fighting Kurdish insurgents and has so far killed many Syrian and Iraqi civilians without accepting the responsibility.
The Trump administration also turned a blind eye when Turkey continued its crackdown on the opposition at home and abroad.
“President Erdogan’s free pass from the Trump White House to commit abuses has officially expired,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The United States will once again speak out forcefully and take steps to hold the Erdogan government accountable for its campaign to silence opposition by censoring social media, clamping down on free speech, and locking away critics.
Markey accused Erdogan of engaging “in a brazen campaign to silence journalists, political opponents, dissidents, civil society activists, and minorities throughout Turkish society, as well as targeting Turkish citizens outside of its borders.”
“This legislation makes it clear that the United States should use its considerable leverage with this NATO ally to prevent a further erosion of hard-fought democratic progress in Turkey.”
He first introduced the bill alongside Senators Jeff Wyden in 2017, and again in 2019.
“Turkey’s authoritarian government has trampled on the rights of journalists, political rivals and regular citizens who dare to voice criticism of President Erdogan,” said Senator Wyden.
The legislation calls on the Secretary of State to support civil society organizations in Turkey.
The US Senators urged Turkey to “take steps to significantly improve the dire climate for journalists and those supporting the journalism profession.”
They also want Ankara to “halt its indiscriminate detention and prosecution of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors, and fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) European Convention on Human Rights, and Turkey’s other international human rights obligations.”