Muslim Times(Web Desk) – The United Nations human rights chief has called on Turkey to lift the country’s repeatedly extended state of emergency to pave the way for free and fair elections.
“Protracted restrictions on the human rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are incompatible with the conduct of a credible electoral process in Turkey,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement on Wednesday.
The UN human rights chief emphasized that these rights were particularly crucial in the context of elections.
“It is difficult to imagine how credible elections can be held in an environment where dissenting views and challenges to the ruling party are penalized so severely,” he said.
The Turkish government, which is scheduled to hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections in June, has extended the state of emergency seven times since a coup attempt in July 2016. In an effort to crack down on the elements behind the coup, Ankara has ordered the arrest of 160,000 people and dismissal of nearly the same number of civil servants.
Zeid’s office, in a report in March, accused Ankara of mass arrests, arbitrary sackings and other abuses that in some cases amounted to “collective punishment.”
Back then, the UN human rights office urged Ankara to “end the state of emergency and restore the normal functioning of institutions and the rule of law.”
Zeid has described the scope of arrests and dismissals as “just staggering.”
Ankara views US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen as the mastermind of the abortive coup. Those arrested or dismissed in the ensuing crackdown campaign are charged with having links to Gulen.