The ‘real friendship’ that shows just how morally bankrupt Theresa May’s government is

Theresa May
Ed Sykes

Today is one of those dark days when the moral bankruptcy of Britain’s foreign policy is shoved in our faces. It really seems like Conservative leaders are pushing us to see how much they can get away with. Because Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – a dictator in all but name – will receive the red-carpet treatment as part of his state visit to the UK. And both Queen Elizabeth II and Theresa May will give him a warm welcome on 15 May.

Erdoğan is very thankful to May’s government for boosting his legitimacy just before a controversial election campaigncalling Britain “a real friend”. Because only ‘real friends’, of course, can look past things like alleged:

The UK government’s moral bankruptcy

It’s all part of a pattern, though.

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You may remember the months of violent unrest in Venezuela in 2017, when around 126 people died. Conservatives were supposedly outraged, and it dominated the news for days.

But when Israel kills at least 52 Palestinian protesters in one day, or when Saudi Arabia murders at least 45 civilians in Yemen in less than a week? Tumbleweed.

Far from a moral outcry, there are only timid, meaningless statements after these events. And then, of course, Britain wines and dines these countries’ leaders, trying to sell them more British weapons. Israel’s prime minister in 2017. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. And on 12 May, Bahrain’s dictator.

Now, just days after the government insisted it was “committed to media freedom”, Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the man who’s made Turkey “the world’s biggest prison” for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders. And we’re standing alongside the man whose regime arrests human rights defenders:

The overseer of death and destruction

Erdoğan’s biggest attack on democracy and peace began in 2015. The Canary watched in horror as the following images came in from towns and cities like Cizre and Nusaybin, which the Turkish regime destroyed as it ended peace talks and stepped up its anti-Kurdish war:

Observers believed the death and destruction in these communities and others were war crimes. And judges of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal have since confirmed that.

Imprisoning the opposition

Turkey’s regime has also been targeting the left-wing and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – whose electoral successes in 2015 clearly contributed to Erdoğan’s decision to crack down on his opponents. In February 2017, Turkish courts even sentenced HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş to a prison term for “insulting the state and its institutions”. And the government has reportedly imprisoned thousands of HDP members since 2015. A letter in December 2017 from numerous public figures and UK MPs said Demirtaş was “in court on trumped-up charges of terrorism” – participating in what were “nothing more than show trials”.

These imprisonments showed that Erdoğan’s regime would not tolerate any meaningful pro-Kurdish or progressive opposition.

Demirtaş will compete as a presidential candidate this year from prison.

Shame on Theresa May’s government

Erdoğan is taking Britain for a ride. He knows the government is so desperate for post-Brexit trade partners that it’s prepared to really scrape the barrel. And no matter how authoritarian he gets, Britain keeps selling him arms – reportedly over $1bn worth in the last two years.

Theresa May’s desperation is not only embarrassing. It’s utterly shameful. And it’s totally unacceptable.

Get Involved!

– Write to Theresa May and your MP. Ask them to urge Turkey to resume peace talks with its internal opponents, and to release all political prisoners. Until that happens, ask them to cancel and stop approving arms sales to Turkey, and support Campaign Against Arms Trade to help make that happen.

– Also support Peace in Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign.

Featured image via YouTube screenshot

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