Former Green member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms has said it is no longer possible to call Turkey a country that adheres to the rule of law as the government has an agenda of oppression of people whose views differ from its own, the Bold Medya news website reported.
“In my opinion, Turkey has taken a very difficult path and can no longer be defined as a state of law. There is an agenda of political oppression of various groups. People lose not only their jobs and wealth, but also their reputations and even their freedoms,” she said, adding that this has nothing to do with democracy and liberal values.
Harms was speaking at a ceremony for the awarding of the German Dialogue Prize (Deutscher Dialogpreis) held in Frankfurt last week.
Harms, who served as president of the Greens–European Free Alliance in the European Parliament from 2010 until 2016, commented on recent developments in Turkey after accepting the German Dialogue Prize 2021, awarded by the Federation of German Dialogue Institutions (Bund Deutscher Dialog Institutionen, BDDI), in the category of human rights.
Harms said the justice system in Turkey is based on arbitrariness and hence may declare anyone terrorist at any time, adding: “It is terrible for me to see that good journalists, academics, whom I’ve known for a long time, people who have been in jail for years, like my friend former Peoples’ Democratic Party [HDP] co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, have no chance before the courts.”
The other recipients of the BDDI’s dialogue prizes, given in six categories, were the Anne Frank Educational Centre in the category of “Society and Politics”; Prof. Dr. Ursula Boos-Nünning in the category of “Science and Education”; the Meet to Respect Foundation in the category of “Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue”; and Merida e.V. and Haus der Offenen Tür Sinzig in the category of “Social Engagement.”
Harms was hailed at the ceremony for defending the rights of oppressed people. Selçuk Gültaşlı, the former Brussels representative of the now-closed Zaman daily, referred to Harms as a unique member of the European Parliament.
Gültaşlı praised Harms for speaking out against injustices and rights violations suffered by people no matter who they are.
The European Commission in its yearly report on Turkey released last month said backsliding in the respect for democracy, human and fundamental rights and the Turkish judicial system continued, underlining serious deficiencies in the functioning of the country’s democratic institutions.
According to the report concerns over the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary and undue pressure on judges and prosecutors remained, and none of the judges or prosecutors dismissed following a coup attempt in 2016 were reinstated despite their acquittals.