Turkey on Sunday criticized a recently released US State Department document titled “Turkey 2017 Human Rights Report,” saying it is “full of false portrayals, unacceptable accusations and allegations.”
“The necessary and proportionate measures taken within the context of our rightful and legitimate struggle against terrorist organizations … are once again presented in a biased manner that does not reflect realities,” the Foreign Ministry said in a Sunday statement on the annual report, which was released last week.
In reference to the Turkish government’s witch hunt targeting members of the Gülen movement, accused of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, the Foreign Ministry said the report “which repeats the narratives of terrorist affiliated groups and recklessly misrepresents the fight against terrorism as ‘internal conflict,’ was prepared by a country that hosts the ringleader of FETÖ.”
“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.
The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed coup.
The Foreign Ministry accused the State Department of “ignoring” the fight against “the radical terrorist organization FETÖ, which has tried to infiltrate into state institutions in order to capture the Turkish state from within, and ultimately staged a bloody coup attempt …” and said Turkey was “saddened” that the report presented the “allegations and accusations of terrorist affiliated organizations as reality,” in the process “politicizing” the issue of human rights.
The Foreign Ministry went on to recommend that countries which raise unfair allegations against Turkey first “put an end to the systematic violations of human rights against their own citizens.”
“Turkey resolutely maintains its commitment to the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law while intensively struggling against diverse and severe terrorist threats,” the statement claimed, adding that “we will continue to abide by our international obligations and will work uninterruptedly for further strengthening the fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Turkey survived coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.