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Protests against Erdogan in London

Updated May 16, 2018

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LONDON: Free speech protesters and Kurdish ca­­m­paigners rallied outside Downing Street on Tuesday ahead of a meeting between Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Theresa May.

A Downing Street spok­es­man said a “frank discussion” on human rights was on the agenda for the meeting.

“We’ve always been clear that we want Turkey to uphold its international obligations, including resp­ect for freedom of expression and political freedoms,” he said.

The meeting comes as Erdogan campaigns for re-election after calling a snap poll for June 24, bringing the vote forward by a year and a half.

Outside Downing Street on Tuesday, dozens of campaigners assembled in a protest organised by freedom of expression groups English PEN, Index On Censorship and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“We must make it clear to our government here that we do care about the fundamental freedoms — these values that our own country is anchored upon,” Reporters Without Borders UK chief Rebecca Vincent told protestors.

Calling for the release of imprisoned journalists, she added: “There is an election coming up.” “Under the state of emergency people to not have full access to independent information, so you now have an electorate that will be going to the polls again after quite a short campaign period without having the full picture.” “In light of that for President Erdogan to be welcomed — given the red carpet — here in Britain is shameful.”

The demonstrators were later joined by a larger group protesting Erdogan’s treatment of the Kurds — as well as a handful of counter-protestors seemingly chanting in support of the president.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018