Turkey slams U.S. report faulting Ankara over human rights issues

The Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned a U.S. report accusing Turkey of a wide range of human rights violations, including arbitrary killings and the jailing of politicians.

The Turkey chapter of the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Practices of 2020 country report, “once again featured unfounded claims and biased commentary'' on the country, the ministry said.

The report published on Tuesday highlighted arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody and forced disappearances in Turkey, while pointing to the "continued detention of tens of thousands of persons, including opposition politicians and former members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists’’ in the country.

Turkey’s anti-terror laws were used broadly against opposition political party members, human rights activists, media outlets, suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) sympathizers, and “alleged Gülen movement members or groups affiliated with the Gülen movement,’’ the annual report said.

Ankara designates the PKK, an armed group at war in Turkey for almost 40 years, and the Gülen movement, a religious group accused of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt, as terrorist entities.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the report overlooked Ankara’s efforts in fighting terror and accused the ministry of collaborating with members of the Gülen movement in preparing the document. 

"Turkey will continue without interruption its efforts towards protecting and enhancing the rights of the millions of people it is home to, based on the foundation of democracy and the supremacy of the law,’’ the ministry said.

The report arrives amid a string of issues plaguing Washington-Ankara relations, including Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems and Turkey’s stance against an array of regional players in war-torn Libya and Syria.

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