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Opposition leaders call Erdoğan’s human rights action plan into question

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Turkey’s opposition leaders have expressed doubts about a human rights action plan unveiled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week, at a time when the country is the subject of harsh criticism due to gross human rights violations.

The plan, which consists of 393 activities that will be initiated in a span of two years, has received little appreciation due to the government’s poor record on human rights, with thousands of people including writers, politicians and journalists behind bars despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights for their immediate release.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan on Tuesday said Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should enforce existing laws before they talk about a new action plan for human rights.

“First of all, you should enforce the İstanbul Convention. You should comply with ECtHR decisions [regarding the release of some of the political prisoners]. You should end torture [in prisons]. Only then can you talk about an action plan,” Buldan said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said during his party’s group meeting on Tuesday that they don’t believe in the promised action plan because of the gross human rights violations that continue to take place in the country on a daily basis.

Referring to an attack on dissident journalist Levent Gültekin, which took place in İstanbul’s Bakırköy district on Monday, Kılıçdaroğlu added: “Every hand raised against a journalist is also raised against democracy. If these attacks can happen at a time when the human rights action plan is unveiled and the assailants still walk free, the action plan is obviously of no use.”

The journalist, who was beaten by nearly two dozen men, had several of his fingers broken.

The CHP leader also referred to a case in which the party’s İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu faces up to two years in prison on charges that he insulted former Ordu governor Seddar Yavuz.

“The prosecution must be handled in a healthy manner, under normal circumstances. If the human rights action plan is being implemented in this country, this case should swiftly result in İmamoğlu’s acquittal,” he said.

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