UN Tells Turkey to Curb Freedom Expression Violations

GENEVA (Reuter)–A UN human rights report accused Turkey of a long list of abuses on Thursday–including imprisonment of writers–police torture of journalists–use of force against protesters and routine seizure of newspapers.

Investigator Abid Hussain’s report to the UN human rights commission meeting in Geneva urged Turkey to relax its curbs on freedom of speech and review laws penalizing peaceful expression of views by the press–human rights activists and political groups.

It cited a long list of abuses against writers–journalists–human rights lawyers and a musician–as well as ordinary people detained for speaking in public about police torture.

The list included the cases of 28-year-old photographer Metin Goktepe who died from a brain hemorrhage after he was tortured in police custody and journalist Ragip Duran who was accused of conducting anti-government propaganda.

Also on the list was Yasar Kemal–one of Turkey’s most famous living authors who was convicted for writings defending Kurd rights which the court said had promoted Kurdish separatism.

The European Parliament has blocked millions of dollars of aid to Ankara–partly as a result of Turkey’s shaky human rights record. Senior European politicians have spoken out against Turkey’s membership of the European Union where the Turks are seen by many as too poor–too numerous and too Moslem.

The UN report also voiced concern about "the regular occurrence" of death threats against people seeking to take part in publicaffairs–"a heavy mortgage on the openness of political debate."

"To have a cultural identity requires having the liberty to express it and protect it when it is threatened. But not by any means possible. Certainly not by violent means," it said.

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