Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdoğan made harsh remarks about European critics of human rights violations in Turkey as he answered questions asked by journalists on the way back from his visit to West Africa.
Responding to a question about the joint statement of 10 ambassadors in Turkey calling for the immediate release of the imprisoned human rights activist Osman Kavala, Erdoğan said ‘they didn’t have the luxury of accomodating such ambassadors.’
“The European Court of Human Rights has taken a decision. It looks like they want to convict Turkey on the case of this ‘Soros leftover’ named Kavala,” he said. “Why do 10 ambassadors make such a statement? Those who defend this ‘Soros leftover’ are engaged in efforts to get him released. I told our Foreign Affairs Minister that we couldn’t have the luxury of accommodating such types in our country.”
“How dare do you preach to Turkey like this? Who are you?,” Erdoğan continued. “Leave Kavala aside. Do you release bandits, murderers, terrorists in your own country? Who did such a thing up until now? The US? Germany? They didn’t, and they don’t. When you say anything, they’ll reply: ‘The judiciary is independent.’ Your judiciary is independent, so what about ours? Is it dependent? Our judiciary demonstrates the best practices of independence.”
Erdoğan also expressed his fury over the protests against the incarceration of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), saying that it was the call of the judiciary, in both cases.
“They’re trying to have Selahattin Demirtaş released,” he said. “He’s a terrorist! 53 people died in Diyarbakır as a result of the call he made. You know how our dear child Yasin Börü was martyred. While the whole thing is evident, a TV channel hosts his wife on a show, lets her speak, and she says that the father of her children is in jail. The father of your children is in jail, but Yasin Börü was martyred. The others were martyred. Didn’t they have children as well? What will happen to them? They don’t say anything about this.”
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on 22 December 2020 that Turkey must immediately release Selahattin Demirtas, saying the justification for his four years in prison was a cover for limiting pluralism and debate.
As ‘the call’ Erdoğan refers to for blaming Demirtaş is fictional, most of the people who died in separate incidents of violence in 2014 – after peaceful demonstrations calling for solidarity with the people of Kobane (northern Syria) suffering under the attacks of the Islamic State – were affiliated with the pro-Kurdish HDP.