Readers' letters

Poor record of human rights

Monday, 12th September 2016, 4:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th September 2016, 9:44 am

The ‘Vote Leave’ campaign claims Turkey’s possible accession to the EU will lead to mass migration of Turkish citizens to the UK. As a supporter of the ‘Remain’ campaign, I don’t have any misgivings at all about migration issues within the European Union because this is a two-way street between the UK and other EU countries as there are 1.2 million British people living in other EU countries as ‘committed migrants’.

However, not only is there a possibility of Turkey’s accession to the EU within decades, but my particular objection to this is the failure of successive Turkish governments to acknowledge the atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

The genocide against the Armenian people was planned and administered by the then Turkish government against its entire Armenian population. Armenians were subjected to deportation to Anatolia and Syria from their historic homeland in Turkey, their property was expropriated, and they were abducted, massacred, starved and tortured. The Armenian Genocide is commemorated on April 24, when the massacres began in 1915.

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The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, but because of persistent denial by successive Turkish governments, Turkey has never been indicted by the International Criminal Court for it. In Turkey, debate has been stifled with Article 301 of the Penal Code on “insulting Turkishness” being used to prosecute prominent writers who discuss the killings of Armenians.

Ten countries within the EU recognise the events that took place in Turkey between 1915 and 1923 as genocide (but regrettably not the UK) and the European Parliament has adopted several parliamentary resolutions to do so, the latest being in 2005.

In my opinion, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government is an absolute pre-requisite to 
Turkey’s accession to the EU.

To bring us up to date, Turkish Government restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom are associated with efforts to discredit political opposition and prevent scrutiny of Government policies. Turkish authorities were responsible for almost three quarter of requests to Twitter worldwide for removal of Tweets. The authorities impose arbitrary bans on public gatherings, violently dispersing peaceful demonstrations. Journalists continue to be removed from mainstream media organisations for critical reporting.

In addition, people have been detained for unspecified periods prior to their trials for allegedly insulting Erdogan through correspondence to newspapers, social media and demonstrations.

Amnesty International’s 2015 Annual Report detailed a rapidly deteriorating human rights environment in Turkey, particularly after the parliamentary elections and the outbreak of violence between the Turkish government and the Kurdish Worker’ Party (PKK). Long-standing problems in Turkey’s justice system include threats to judicial independence and politically motivated prosecutions. Despite Turkey’s ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, violence against women remains a significant concern in Turkey.

Such an autocratic country has no place within the European Union’s democratic institutions.

Susan Fox, Longton

We need to stay for sake of NHS

Between 2000 and 2010, the Labour government doubled, in real terms, expenditure on the NHS. The Coalition Government increased NHS expenditure by more than inflation. The Conservative Government has continued to do so. If we leave the EU, the economy will grow very little at all. Therefore for greater investment in the NHS and other vital services, we need to stay in the EU.

Graham Nelson, Preston