Following the Prime Minister’s ‘shameful‘ visit to Turkey earlier this year, English PEN warmly welcomes the news that Joan Ryan MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Enfield North, has secured a parliamentary debate to discuss the current political situation in Turkey and its impact on human rights.
Announcing the debate on her webiste, Joan Ryan MP, explained why she feels it is important:
It has been over four and a half years since MPs have had a full debate in Parliament on issues relating to Turkey and so much has happened during that time.
Since the attempted coup last July, more than 10,000 people have been detained and over 100,000 people from the army, education sector, legal sector and civil service are reported to have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs. Greater restrictions have been imposed upon the right of assembly and the freedom of expression, including the targeting of media outlets and journalists. There have also been deeply concerning and widespread reports of human rights violations perpetrated against the minority Kurdish and Alevi communities. All of these issues, as well as the significance of the UK-Turkey bilateral relationship, will no doubt be discussed by MPs on the day.
She goes on to describe ‘the deep level of interest and concern amongst parliamentarians regarding the current situation in Turkey’, as signalled by the recent Early Day Motion on press freedom in Turkey, tabled by Stewart McDonald MP and signed by over 45 fellow MPs, including representatives of the Conservatives, Democratic Unionist Party, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party, and Plaid Cymru.
This debate will provide an important opportunity for Members of Parliament to consider the aftermath of last year’s attempted coup and the forthcoming national referendum in April on the new, draft constitution – the result of which could provide sweeping new powers to the Turkish President.
It will also allow MPs to reaffirm their strong support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the country and to question the UK Government on how they will seek to promote these values in our important relationship with Turkey.
We are very grateful to Joan Ryan MP for securing this debate and hope that it will be well attended by parliamentarians from all parties. We are therefore asking all of our UK-based members and supporters to take a few moments to write to your MP asking them to attend the debate on Thursday 9 March, from 3 – 4.30pm.
Write to your MP
Write to your local MP urging them to attend the parliamentary debate on Turkey. Messages can be sent via They Work For You (simply type in your postcode and then enter your message). A sample note is available but please do write your own if you have time, and please email email@example.com to let us know of any emails you send and responses you receive. Thank you.
Dear [XX] MP
I am writing as a supporter of English PEN to ask you to attend the upcoming parliamentary debate to discuss the political and human rights situation in Turkey.
Joan Ryan MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Enfield North, has secured a debate this Thursday, 9 March, from 3 – 4.30pm in order to provide MPs with an opportunity to discuss the current situation in Turkey, in the wake of last year’s attempted coup and ahead of the referendum on 16 April.
As a supporter of PEN, I am very concerned by the impact the attempted coup and resulting crackdown has had on press freedom in the country. Turkey is now the world’s biggest jailer of journalists with more than 150 currently in prison, while independent newspapers and broadcasters have been forced to close. This is of further concern in light of the upcoming referendum, given the crucial role of the media to ensure that the Turkish public is fully informed ahead of this historic decision. This repression has been condemned by the United Nations and the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member state.
I hope that you will join the debate in order to show your support for democracy and human rights in Turkey.
I look forward to your response.