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U.S. Senators Sign Letter Calling on President Joe Biden for increased Pressure on Erdogan Over Human Rights Violations

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Over 50 U.S senators signed a letter calling on President Joe Biden to press the Turkish government to improve its human rights record, highlighting rising authoritarianism both at home and abroad.

The bipartisan initiative, led by Democrat Party Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Party Florida Senator Marco Rubio, said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “foreign policy has also grown more belligerent and combative”.

The U.S. Congress, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, passed several motions and sanctions packages against Turkey’s strongman during the term of former President Donald Trump. But any punitive measures were blocked by ex-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a close ally of Trump.

The strongly-worded letter called on Biden “to emphasise to President Erdogan and his administration that they should immediately end their crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and reverse their authoritarian course.”

The letter also noted how the Erdoğan government had attempted to extradite Turkish nationals from abroad since a failed military coup in 2016, and in some instances used Interpol notices to put pressure on critics.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers in bipartisan bills overwhelmingly voted to impose military and financial sanctions on Turkey following the country’s military operation against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northeast Syria in October of 2019.

During the last two years of the Trump administration, both chambers of Congress also recognised a massacre of Armenians early last century on Turkish soil as genocide. 

The letter sent to Biden this week also referred to a Freedom House report in which Turkey was rated as “Not Free” in 2020.

According to press release by Wyden’s office, the letter led by Wyden and Rubio, was also signed by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), James Lankford (R-OK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Robert Casey (D-PA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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