Letter:Turkey needs to be more open

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Sir: Taking a swipe at politicians is a favourite occupation of a certain type of journalist. Instead, Tony Barber should take a look at the information about Turkey which comes from non-politicians. The US State Department, the UN Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN, the Turkish Human Rights Association, and Article XIX present the kind of picture Mr Barber ascribes to the "politicians".

Turkey has the longest entry of any country in the six-monthly case list of the Writers in Prison Committee, and the longest entry in the report of the UN Rapporteur on Torture.

The Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, M Bacre Waly Ndiaye, an African jurist, reports that he "continues to be extremely concerned about violations of the right to life in the south-eastern provinces of Turkey". He complains that no progress has been made since 1992 on his request for an invitation to visit Turkey.

If Mr Barber wants Europe to treat Turkey as a friend and equal partner, he should persuade the Turks to adopt a policy of greater transparency. If they have nothing to hide, not only could they invite M Ndiaye, but also they could lift the ban on Amnesty International and myself entering the country. They could invite the International Red Cross to provide humanitarian services under the Geneva Conventions in the conflict in the south-east, as they have been offering to do for 12 years, and they could invite the OSCE to help solve the conflict, as they are doing everywhere else in the region.


Chairman, Parliamentary

Human Rights Group

House of Lords

London SW1