Turkey slams US State Dept. comments on southeast

Türkiye Materials 15 July 2016 01:09 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby's comments regarding the Human Rights Watch report on southeastern Turkey do not reflect reality, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday, Anadolu reported.

Tanju Bilgic’s remarks came two days after Kirby's press briefing, in which he said: "We’re obviously aware of the report stating that the Turkish government has not responded to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – the letter requesting permission for a UN team to conduct an investigation in southeastern Turkey to examine potential violations by the security forces during military operations in urban areas."

On July 11, Human Rights Watch accused the Turkish government of blocking access regarding independent probes into alleged abuses against civilians in southeastern Turkey.

Bilgic said in a written statement that international organizations operating in the field of human rights could "easily" visit Turkey's southeast.

"Having been one of the 116 countries offering an open invitation to the UN special procedures since 2001, Turkey cooperates closely with the thematic rapporteurs," said Bilgic.

Bilgic said the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in March, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks in April and Turkish co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in May all paid official visits in the southeastern region.

"Moreover, our invitation with a statement on May 16 to Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, in our country, including the southeast, for a visit is extant," he added.

Bilgic also said: "Without knowing all of the truths, Kirby's comments that we prevent investigations in the southeast are not compatible with any reality."

The spokesman also said Turkey will continue with its "uninterrupted constructive cooperation" with all UN mechanisms on human rights.

Turkey’s southeast has been the scene of significant military operations since December 2015, as the police and army seek to clear the PKK terrorist organization from urban areas.

The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization also by the U.S., and EU – resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.

Since then, nearly 600 security personnel, including troops, police officers, and village guards, have been martyred, and more than 5,000 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.