Double standards in democratic rights are unacceptable


During the 1980s, daily life in Turkey was marred by restrictions on freedom, capital punishment and many forms of torture, which were commonplace under the Kemalist oligarchy used to oppress the masses and stage military coups, forcing many to flee in search of shelter and freedom. The Turks turned to Sweden as a place of refuge in the 1980s as they considered the country to be a stronghold of democracy: But times have changed.

On Oct. 14, the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), a non-governmental organization (NGO) comprised of Swedes of Turkish origin, attempted to organize an event in Stockholm to educate the public on the July 15 resistance with the direct eyewitness accounts of three Turkish journalists who witnessed the coup attempt firsthand. The main goal in organizing this event was to shed light on the coup attempt by describing the insurrection of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the millions of citizens who risked their lives for the sake of democracy.

However, in stark contrast to the welcoming sentiments of the Swedes towards Turks in the 1980s, officials promptly banned the event. For what reason would Sweden ban an event centered on democratic dialogue? Does siding with the FETÖ militants make Swedes more dignified on the world stage than siding with Turkish nationals who love their country and stood up for its sovereignty?

Swedish politicians, who supposedly support and are proud to organize such events, contrastively impeded it.

Are Swedes unaware that their actions show indirect support to the militants guilty of shelling Parliament and taking hundreds of innocent lives on July 15? Is Sweden blissfully unaware that they are hampering the efforts of those who sided with democracy in resistance of the bloodbath on July 15? Is this really the new norm of Olaf Palme's native Sweden?

This is a disgrace to democracy.

Also, people of Turkish origin living in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria nearly shy away from overtly supporting coup protesters in Turkey. How can this situation be in compliance with democracy or freedom of expression?

In Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, Turkish politicians who are members of political parties or local councils are being discharged on grounds that they support the Turkish people and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or that they have participated in the solidarity meetings.

The electorate of Turkish origins in EU countries support the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey for the same reasons that they support the Christian Democrats or social democratic parties in Europe. In both contexts, they prefer to side with the parties which embrace democracy. However, in the last couple of months, Europeans of Turkish origin have begun to be punished for siding with democracy. Supporting the AK Party or Erdoğan has become a reason for exclusion in EU countries, which is a shame in the name of democracy.

Interestingly, in many EU countries, the ones who discharge politicians of Turkish origin from their relevant political parties do so on the grounds that they support or lean towards the AK Party and, for unknown reasons, keep those members who support FETÖ or the outlawed PKK terrorist organization, encouraging them to further their careers in politics. The EU does not see any problem with the fact that there are a number of deputies of Turkish origin who support the PKK in their relevant parliaments. In a nutshell, the ones being hostile to Turkey are being promoted rather than the ones supporting modern Turkey. Is this the new perspective on democracy that the EU wants to adopt?

Along with Stockholm, many other EU cities have prohibited various organizations from expressing acts of solidarity since the July 15 coup attempt, based on whimsy excuses, while associations which support the terrorist PKK are allowed to organize all kinds of events. Does this double standard not constitute a major disgrace to democracy?

With this attitude, EU countries are disappointing hundreds of thousands of Europeans of Turkish origin in terms of "democracy," subjecting them to various enforcements and pressures under the ruse of freedom of expression and free choice, which are their incontestable rights. As a matter of fact, such methods stand in direct contradiction to the values the EU purports. Don't these methods comply with the logic of dictatorship rather than of democracy?

German citizens of Turkish origins who vote for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) or the Social Democratic Party (SPD), choose the AK Party for the same reasons that they support these German parties. Excluding a person due to his/her political position regarding the situation in Turkey by ignoring this fact contradicts the Copenhagen Criteria above all. Without a doubt, the Copenhagen Criteria does not propose a double standard. However, this has been the most widely encountered practice enforced by the EU over the past couple of months.

And, the course of events is not promising.

EU citizens of Turkish origin are, unfortunately, subjected to such discrimination.

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