HRF Ad Campaign Condemns Erdogan during UNGA
NEW YORK (September 28, 2018) — This week Turkey’s authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited New York City to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). To coincide with the visit, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published multi-page advertisements in the prevalent subway newspaper, Metro, and launched a social media campaign to expose the magnitude and severity of Erdogan’s crimes. Since a failed coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan’s regime has persecuted, imprisoned and purged alleged “coup-plotters,” including thousands of political opponents, judges, journalists, and university professors. HRF denounced Erdogan’s policy of abductions of dozens of Turkish nationals abroad, with the help of foreign authoritarian regimes. The campaign gained more than one million impressions on social media. This is the third time HRF has sent public messages to Erdogan during his visits to the U.S. to communicate that dictators should not be welcomed in democratic countries. Following his visit, the Turkish regime stated that it will launch “operations” against its opponents in the U.S.
“Erdogan has been executing a scheme of wrongful international abductions and summary deportations to capture, repatriate, and imprison innocent individuals, the majority of them high school teachers working in educational institutions that follow the religious philosophy of Hizmet,” said Javier El-Hage, HRF’s chief legal officer. “Authoritarian governments around the world, including those in Azerbaijan, Moldova, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Gabon, have been eager to collaborate with Erdogan in arbitrarily arresting and deporting these innocent Turkish nationals, in open violation of international law,” he said.
Repression has risen in Erdogan’s Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of citizens, including academics, judges, teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and journalists have been arrested as part of a larger crackdown on alleged followers of the Hizmet religious philosophy, also called “Gulen movement,” which the regime has blamed for the 2016 failed coup attempt. The regime’s crackdown on opposition voices violates these individuals’ freedoms of speech, opinion, and religion, and has directly weakened the country’s democratic institutions and eradicated government accountability. According to Turkey Purge, since July 2016, 445,000 people faced investigation, 141,558 were detained, and 80,147 were arrested. As part of the purge, 6,145 academics lost their jobs, 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities were shut down, 4,463 judges and prosecutors were dismissed, 319 journalists were arrested,189 media outlets were shut down, and 120 citizens died in custody or while fleeing the country. The campaign also shared the stories of victims including high school history teacher Gokhan Acikkolu, novelist Ahmet Altan, NASA scientist Serkan Golge, and American pastor Andrew Brunson.
Hundreds of Turkish nationals have been abducted from countries across the world and illegally transferred to Turkey. On March 30, HRF sent a letter to Kosovo’s prime minister calling on him to release six wrongfully imprisoned Turkish nationals, in application of international law’s non-refoulement principle. On September 6, HRF also sent an urgent letter to the chief representative of the Republic of Moldova in the United States urging him to release and protect from illegal deportation six innocent Turkish teachers who were arbitrarily arrested by Moldova’s intelligence services.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
To learn more about Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, watch Oslo Freedom Forum speaker Enes Kanter’s conversation here and read his op-ed in TIME here.
Watch the campaign video, which was retweeted more than 4,000 times, here and share it on social media using the hashtag #ErdoganOut.
Tell Erdogan he is not welcome in the free world, and urge U.S. President Donald Trump to demand that Erdogan stop his crackdown on dissent.
Serdar Kilic, Ambassador of Turkey to the United States
Phone: +1 (212) 612-6700
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States
Phone: +1 (202) 456-1414