News & Opinion

Letter to PM of Turkey published in The Times

The letter, addressed to Mr Erdogan, condemns the police treatment of rioters in Istanbul and is signed by a number of prominent figures.

Referring to the "heavy-handed clamp down of your police forces on the peaceful protestors at Taskim Square and Gezi Park", the signatories "vigorously condemn" the state's actions, which "according to the Turkish Medical Association, has left five people dead, 11 blinded-due to indiscriminate use of pepper gas, and over 8,000 injured".

Describing the clearing of the protestors as "relying on untold brutal violence", the letter accuses the Turkish Prime Minister of "dictatorial rule" and holding a meeting in the county's capital "reminiscent of the Nuremberg Rally, with total disregard for the five dead". Attention is also drawn to imprisoned journalists in Turkey, which "are more than the combined number of those in China and Iran".

Before signing off, the writers state that "while you aspire to make your country a member of the EU, you refute all criticism levelled at you by its leaders, on grounds of Turkey being a Sovereign State". However, drawing on the fact that Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949 and that the state ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1954, they go on to state that Mr Erdogan is under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights - "your orders which led to deaths of five innocent youths, might well constitute a Case to Answer, in Strasbourg".

The letter is signed by 30 well known names including screenwriter Julian Fellowes, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, actress Susan Sarandon, screenwriter/playwright Tom Stoppard, actor Sean Penn and writer (and Boris Johnson's sister) Rachel Johnson.


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