The European Parliament has passed a resolution denouncing the arrests of people who criticized Turkey’s military intervention in Afrin. One MEP told DW that there’s “no respect for human rights” in Turkey.
Turkey’s detention of hundreds of journalists, doctors and regular citizens who have been critical of Ankara’s operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin, was condemned by the European Parliament on Thursday.
The European Parliament described the arrests as “an attempt to censor criticism” in their resolution.
“We want to show our solidarity with Turkey’s population that is going through a difficult period, and at the same time remind EU leaders that human rights must remain on the top of EU-Turkey relations,” Kati Piri, a Dutch MEP and the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, told DW.
Rebecca Harms, a German MEP with the Green party, told DW that the human rights situation is of great concern for Brussels and that EU funds to Turkey must be contingent upon change.
“The rule of law in Turkey, as we knew it, doesn’t actually exist anymore,” Harms said. “The level of violence has been raised and there is no more respect for human rights.”
She added that if the EU’s customs union is to be expanded, “it must be made clear that this can only happen if Turkey returns to the rule of law.”
Thursday’s resolution states that the EU’s aid funds to Turkey “should be conditional on improving its record on human rights.” The resolution also urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to lift the state of emergency that enables authorities to crack down on critics.
Warning about Afrin
The European Parliament also criticized Turkey’s actions in Afrin, saying Ankara’s military intervention raises serious humanitarian concerns.
“[MEPs] are seriously concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the Turkish assault and warn against continuing with these disproportionate actions,” the parliament’s statement said.
With regards to Turkey’s military operations in Afrin, Piri said the EU parliament “recognizes Turkey’s right to protect its borders,” but warned of the consequences of military action in the region.
The Turkish army has been fighting against the Kurdish militia YPG in its “Olive Branch” offensive since January 20.