Turkey rejects ‘unfortunate’ U.S. report accusing Ankara of human rights violations

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned a U.S. report accusing Turkey of curbing fundamental freedoms and compromising the rule of law in 2021.

The “unfounded allegations” about Turkey in the  U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Practices of 2021 country report “are unfortunate and we reject them totally,” the ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

The report published on April 12 said Turkey had significant problems with “judicial independence,” “severe restrictions on freedom of the press and expression,” as well as with freedoms of assembly, association and movement.

The report highlighted allegations of corruption and arbitrary arrests and killings in the country, while pointing to the impunity of the security forces and other officials accused of human rights abuses.

The report also said Turkey demonstrated significant human rights issues based on credible reports of arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and continued detention of tens of thousands of persons for purported ties to “terrorist” groups.

The Turkish Foreign ministry said it was “regretful” that the United States had failed to understand Turkey’s fight against terrorism and that is was “unacceptable” that the report included allegations ignoring the fact that the “PKK is a terrorist organization and extend support to the claims of terror-affiliated circles.”

The PKK is an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for 40 years. The group is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States.

The ministry also highlighted its fight against the Gülen movement, a religious group accused of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt. Ankara designates the group a terror organisation and has detained tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the group in the aftermath of the failed coup.

“We invite the U.S. to focus on its own record in the field of human rights and put an end to its partnership with the extensions of terrorist groups under the guise of counter-terrorism,” the ministry said.

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