Turkey: Treatment of Kurds

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:14 am on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State 11:14 am, 10th April 2019

As the right hon. Lady will be aware, obviously we have a proscription in place for good reason, but it is not a hit list of acceptability from one organisation to another. Until such time as the PKK denounces violence, it must recognise that it will be regarded as a proscribed organisation in many parts of the world. I would like to see those people who have been actively engaged denounce violence to ensure that they are no longer proscribed and can play a proper and full part in the democratic process. The list does not run from A to Z according to some level of acceptability; an organisation is either proscribed or it is not. One might objectively sit back and think, “Certain organisations are more dangerous to our interests than others.” None the less, it is right that rules for proscription are in place.

The Turkish Government have a right and a responsibility to act against the perpetrators of any coup attempt and all who have committed or are planning terrorist acts. However, it is also vital that any and all measures taken are proportionate and in line with Turkey’s democratic principles and freely given human rights obligations. We shall continue to express our concern to Turkey where we believe that is not the case. This includes a number of individual cases, including that of a former Amnesty director, Taner Kılıç, who was released on bail last year. We look forward to the judicial reforms that Turkey’s reform action group is considering and hope they will make a genuine difference to other cases of concern, including those of the civil society patron, Osman Kavala.

We remain concerned at the sheer scale of the response, including the number of civil servants who have been summarily dismissed from their jobs, and especially the number of journalists who have been detained. We believe that a free press is an essential component of a healthy democracy, and I know that the UK’s championing of that will have support across the House with our Defend Media Freedom campaign in 2019, which will culminate in a conference in London on 10 and 11 July with our friends from Canada. In raising these issues, we will never forget the trauma of the coup attempt and the extraordinary security threats that Turkey continues to face on a day-to-day basis. We can see that just by looking at a map of the region.

To conclude, we shall continue to engage with Turkey and other countries that have significant and sizable Kurdish populations on all the issues that have been raised in this important debate. We shall continue to press for lasting solutions that are proportionate, democratic and lawful.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.