The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned the U.N. election of Turkey as Vice-Chair of the committee that accredits and oversees the work of non-governmental human rights groups at the world body, noting that the Erdogan regime arrests, jails and persecutes human rights activists, journalists and students.
"Electing Turkey's Erdogan regime to oversee the work of human rights activists at the U.N. is like picking the fox to guard the henhouse, as he is still wiping the feathers off his mouth from his last meal," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
"This election is absurd, and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nations as a whole," said Neuer.
The diplomat elected on January 29th to represent the Erdogan regime on the committee was Ceren Hande Özgür.
"It underscores the degree to which this vital committee--which has the power to suspend the U.N. credentials of human rights groups--has been hijacked by the world's worst dictatorships."
Neuer noted that a majority of the committee's 19 member states are regimes that are hostile to human rights activists, including Iran, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela.
"Regrettably, while India and South Africa are democracies, they too often vote with the dictatorships," said Neuer.
Turkey Persecutes NGOs
Despite its U.N. election today, Turkey is notorious for persecuting NGO activists, as documented by Freedom House:
- Since the attempted coup in 2016, 1,500 civil society organizations have been summarily closed and their property confiscated. Targeted groups worked on torture, domestic violence, and aid to refugees and internally displaced persons.
- In 2017, Turkey arrested a number of leading human rights activists on terrorism charges. Osman Kavala, the country's most prominent civil society leader, was detained in October and charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.
- In June 2017, the chair of Amnesty International's Turkey branch was arrested on terrorism charges.
- In July, a raid on a routine training session for human rights defenders resulted in the arrest of eight representatives from Turkey's major rights organizations, along with two foreign trainers. They were eventually released pending trial.
- Journalists are prosecuted, and media outlets closed.
- Authorities routinely disallow gatherings by government critics on security grounds, while pro-government rallies are allowed to proceed.
- Restrictions were imposed on May Day celebrations by leftist and labor groups, LGBT events, protests by purge victims, and opposition party meetings. Police use force to break up unapproved protests.