Bünyamin Tekin, Strasbourg
The former leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who currently serves as a member of the British parliament, has described an ongoing post-coup crackdown on free speech and government critics in Turkey as “utterly wrong,” calling on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to take action on the rights violations stemming from the crackdown.
Corbyn answered Turkish Minute’s questions after giving a speech in support of hundreds of victims of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown as well as activists, joined by EU parliamentarians, who gathered in front of the court in Strasbourg on Friday to protest rights violations in Turkey and ask the ECtHR to take swift action against them.
The top European human rights reviewing body is accused by victims of human rights violations in Turkey that culminated after an abortive putsch in 2016, when the government launched a crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, of not expeditiously processing applications from the victims or of issuing rulings in favor of the Turkish government in some cases.
“I’ve been a representative of many Turkish and Kurdish people in my constituency for a very long time. I’m also a friend of the unions, the trade unions, in Turkey. The crackdown on free speech, the crackdown on unions, the crackdown on professionals, the crackdown on journalists is utterly wrong. And the European Court of Human Rights ought to act. Turkey is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and should adhere to it,” Corbyn said, responding to a question about his views on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s post-coup crackdown.
Corbyn addressed the crowd gathered in front of the ECtHR building in Strasbourg, and called on people to unite in the face of oppression.
“Human rights know no borders,” Corbyn said.
Answering a question about his thoughts on the protest, Corbyn said: “I want human rights for all. That means the right to know, the right to free speech, the right to assembly and the rights of journalists to be able to work without being threatened with imprisonment. And I concluded my speech with a call for the freedom for Julian Assange, because of everything he’s done to try and bring about peace in the world. To me, this is about universal human rights. And I’m pleased to have been here today.”
Corbyn said Turkey’s Western allies prioritize a military relationship with Turkey and thus are very cautious about addressing the rights violations in the country.
“If human rights are to mean anything, they have to be universal, and you have to implement human rights law, whatever the consequences in every country,” he said.
Corbyn also talked about a decision by the UK government, announced in December, to lift a ban on the sale of military equipment to Turkey that was put in place after Ankara’s successive military operations against Syrian Kurds, and said the move was a mistake.
İsmail Demir, Turkey’s chief defense industry officer, announced in May that the UK had completely lifted all the restrictions on the export of defense products to Turkey that were brought in following Ankara’s 2019 offensive on northeast Syria.
“I think it was a mistake to lift the arms ban. But I also think that we need to have much more control over the arms trade around the world. The arms trade is often the driver of conflict, not the solver of conflicts,” Corbyn said.