Amnesty demands Merkel speak up for human rights on Turkey trip

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Amnesty International called upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel Saturday to directly address the issue of human rights during her upcoming visit to Turkey.

“Again and again government critics are brought before court on trumped-up charges and peaceful demonstrators are beaten up by the police,” said Selmin Caliskan, general secretary of the German branch of the human rights organization.

She pointed out that numerous civilians had already been killed in the ongoing conflict between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Merkel, who was due to arrive in Istanbul on Sunday to have talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said ahead of the trip her intention was to address the refugee crisis, the fight against terrorism and the civil war in Syria.

The European Union has promised Ankara 1 billion euros (1.14 billion dollars) to help it deal with the over 2 million refugees from the Syrian conflict currently living in Turkey.

Caliskan criticized EU and German leaders for considering the possibility of adding Turkey to the list of “safe countries” from which asylum applications can not be considered.

“Such a classification would deny the grave human rights violations in Turkey. It would also increase the risk that critical journalists, for example, but also lawyers and peaceful activists, would be repatriated to Turkey despite the fact they would be threatened with political persecution there,” she said.

Merkel was forced on Saturday to defend her trip to Turkey.

“Europe cannot protect its external borders alone if we do not forge a deal with Turkey,” she said during a visit to her Baltic coast constituency.

She downplayed expectations for what the trip could achieve, but she said it was a start.

Earlier the leader of the opposition Greens had questioned her motives for the trip so soon before Turkish parliamentary elections on November 1.

“Erdogan is not the solution to the problems, rather Erdogan is the personified cause of the fleeing by virtue of the politics for which he stands,” said Cem Ozdemir.

“I do not want a German chancellor who campaigns for an authoritarian ruler.”

Ozdemir demanded Merkal also meet opposition politicians if she went ahead with the trip on Sunday.

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