No: 72, 13 March 2020, Press Release Regarding Turkey 2019 Human Rights Report of the U.S. Department of State

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which are drafted every year by the US Department of State for more than 190 countries and submitted to the US Congress, were published on 11 March 2020. “Turkey 2019 Human Rights Report” which is prepared in this context, is far from being objective, is politically motivated and contains unfounded accusations based on ambiguous sources.

By referring as the “Gülen movement” to Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is the perpetrator of the 15 July coup attempt and an existential threat to our country, the report tries to portray FETÖ as an innocent civilian organization. This approach, which reveals that the US still fails to understand our rightful fight against this terrorist organization, amounts to disregarding the most fundamental right - the right to life - of hundreds of our citizens martyred by FETÖ. The fact that all the evidence presented regarding this terrorist organization were disregarded in this year’s report shows that it is once again drafted on the basis of the allegations of certain hostile circles against Turkey.

Allegations in the report regarding the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure during the Operation Peace Spring are far from reality. There can be no explanation for including such allegations that have not been confirmed by independent, reputable sources and are clearly for propaganda. Those who have razed Syrian cities to the ground in the name of fighting against DAESH have no lesson to give to Turkey, which has given utmost care to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in its counter-terrorism operations in Syria and carried out exemplary stabilization efforts in its operation areas. Even the Global Coalition against DEASH itself admits killing 1370 civilians in its air strikes until the end of 2019.

Information about and responses to many allegations in the report could be found in the National Report of Turkey published in October 2019 as part of Turkey’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It is ironic that the most comprehensive international human rights review mechanism, the UPR, and the tangible information shared with the world by Turkey within the UPR process were not even mentioned in the report.

Turkey has taken significant steps to protect and promote human rights and the positive results of these steps are already seen in practice. The new Judicial Reform Strategy and the first Legislative Package pursuant to the Strategy as well as preparations for the Human Rights Action Plan are the most concrete examples of Turkey’s sincerity in this regard.

Turkey will resolutely continue to pursue its reform agenda based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.