CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

FOREIGN AFFAIRS – TURKEY – 7 June 2018

Dr Julian Lewis: The right hon. Lady [Joan Ryan] is making an excellent speech. It would be bad enough if these developments were happening in an ideological vacuum, but they are not. Does she agree that this is not just a power grab on the Putin model in Russia but a power grab that is allied to the dismantling of Turkey’s former reputation as the model state where there could be a Muslim society where religion was kept separate from politics? All that, too, is being put into reverse.

[Joan Ryan: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on that. The struggle since the first world war has been to move Turkey to a secular democracy. It is not very long ago, some 10 or 15 years, that we were all excited about the developments in Turkey and about it becoming a European Union accession country. It is sad to see where Turkey is today, but more than that the situation is very threatening, not just for its own population but much more widely to Europe, to the UK and across the middle east. ...]

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Dr Lewis: In fairness to Turkey, it must be said that, in years gone by, there were huge numbers of civilian casualties caused by some Kurdish terrorist movements, but our Government have chosen to support Kurdish fighters against ISIL-Daesh and we are entitled to expect some consistency. If Kurdish fighters are to be supported against the terrorists of ISIL-Daesh, surely Kurdish civilians should be supported against political oppression as well.

[Joan Ryan: I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and he pre-empts a few comments that I am going on to make. ... ]

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Dr Lewis: The right hon. Lady [Ann Clwyd]  is painting a worrying picture of detentions. I recall that in the aftermath of the coup, and for a considerable time afterwards, we constantly heard reports of tens of thousands of people being arrested. We know that huge numbers of people were arrested en bloc, but can she share any information with the House about whether a significant proportion of those have been released?

[Ann Clwyd: That was to be my very next line. Tens of thousands of people are under arrest, and some 150,000 people were sacked or suspended from their jobs in the aftermath of the failed coup. Police, military personnel, teachers, academics, judges, lawyers and other public servants have been among those caught up in the crackdown, and they include friends of mine. Some of those academics, for example, have no idea why they have been arrested. Fortunately, some have been released, but tens of thousands of people are still in jail and not quite sure what they are doing there at all. ... ]