NGO Letter to Obama: Concern over Turkey’s Actions
In a letter released today to President Obama, Foreign Policy Initiative, the Project on Middle East Democracy, Freedom House, and Reporters Without Borders expressed their concern over apparent stalled progress and regression in “crucial areas.” The letter draws attention to the deteriorating situation for journalists and members of the press in Turkey, as well as concerns over Kurdish rights, freedom of expression, and the position of women in the government and labor force.
“Hundreds of military officers, as well as various scholars and journalists, have been arrested and charged through trials dogged by allegations of fabricated evidence used by the prosecution,” the letter says. “Turkey, once a leader in the region on the role of women in society, has alarmingly few women in high level government positions and professions, and has seen a steady decline in women’s participation in the labor force,” it adds.
The organizations urge President Obama “to express publicly and privately America’s concerns about Turkey’s backsliding, and to direct diplomatic efforts toward ensuring that Turkey resumes a course designed to consolidate democracy and the rule of law.” Given the tenuous situation in the region due primarily to events in Syria, the U.S.-Turkey relationship “needs to be based on our shared values, not just shared strategic interests,” and “rule of law and political freedoms [must be] a priority in your engagements with Prime Minister Erdogan.”