The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday criticized a report by the US State Department on human rights practices in the country, dismissing it as containing “baseless and biased accusations,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The ministry took issue with the portrayal of Turkey’s actions against various groups that it labels as “terrorist organizations,” including the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The ministry criticized the State Department for not acknowledging that the “Syrian Democratic Forces” are supposedly controlled by the “PKK/PYD/YPG” group.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry suggested the report was politically motivated and lacking objectivity, urging the US to focus on its own human rights record.
The US State Department’s report, released on March 20, detailed significant human rights issues in Turkey, including arbitrary killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and the continued detention of opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists.
The report also cited concerns about judicial independence and the treatment of minority groups and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Critics argue that Turkey uses accusations of terrorism to justify a crackdown on civil society and suppress dissenting voices.