Saturday, March 26, 2005

Turkey PM Human Rights Adviser resigns

The chairman of the Turkish prime minister's human rights advisory board has confirmed to the BBC that he will resign from his post.
Yavuz Onen, who is leaving with five others, has bitterly criticised the attitude of the Turkish government towards human rights.

His departure is an embarrassment for the government.

It has worked hard over the last three years to persuade the world its attitude to human rights has changed.

The advisory board and the government had clashed before, following a report from the board that criticised the country's attitude towards its minorities and questioned some of the fundamentals of Turkey's constitution.

The government effectively ignored it; at one point, locking it out of its own offices.

Mr Onen complained that he and 30 other members of the board had tried to get to see the foreign minister, but with no success.

No consultation

He condemned what he called the government's insincere attitude towards human rights and its lack of consultation with the board.

The resignation of Mr Onen and five other members of the board comes at a time when Turkey's human rights record is once again under the spotlight.

The EU, which has given Turkey a date for membership negotiations to start, has made it clear that those negotiations are contingent upon continuing human rights improvements.

Many were deeply shocked by pictures of women demonstrators being assaulted by the police earlier this month in Istanbul.

And human rights groups in the south-east of the country have told the BBC that the situation there has got worse in the last few months.



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