Foreign Minister Maas expected in Turkey

Maas must also advocate for the release of imprisoned human rights activists, politicians, journalists, and Kurds (Press Release)

Heiko Maas should not only advocate for the release of imprisoned German citizens, but also for the release of the many thousand politically persecuted citizens of Turkey. Picture: Arno Mikkor/EU2017EE Estonian Presidency via Flickr CC BY 2.0

On the occasion of the German Foreign Minister’s two-day inaugural visit to Turkey (starting on Wednesday), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) calls on Minister Heiko Maas to not only advocate for the release of imprisoned German citizens, but also for the release of the many thousand imprisoned Turkish human rights activists, elected mayors, and journalists in the country – and in particular for the persecuted members of the Kurdish ethnic group.

“Generally, we welcome the fact that Maas is willing to show commitment for the imprisoned German citizens,” stated Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Consultant, in Göttingen on Wednesday. “However, there are also a lot of politically persecuted Turkish citizens who are in urgent need of our support.” According to Reporters Without Borders, 28 journalists are currently in prison for reasons directly connected to their journalistic activities – and there are about 150 other imprisoned journalists who are most probably imprisoned because of their journalistic activity, only that this can not be proven because the Turkish judiciary often holds back information on the exact allegations for quite a while. 

There is still arbitrariness and violence in Turkish Kurdistan, although the state of emergency was lifted. Almost every day, the police forces and the army carry out attacks on peaceful protesters – Kurdish people and members of the Turkish democracy movement – who, among other things, are demanding a release of the political prisoners.

“The violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations of the ‘Saturday mothers’ in Istanbul and in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir at the end of August shows that the Turkish government is not really trying to improve the situation,” Sido emphasized. “The German federal government must condemn these actions!” Since 1995, Kurdish and Turkish mothers gather for protests every Saturday, demanding information about their relatives who disappeared decades ago. According to various sources, this affects at least 7,000 people, most of them Kurds. It has to be assumed that most of them were tortured and/or murdered by the police and the army.

Headerpicture: Arno Mikkor/EU2017EE Estonian Presidency via Flickr