(OTTAWA – October 27, 2021) – Last week, Turkish dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again demonstrated his short-sightedness by instigating a diplomatic row with Canada and nine other western countries by threatening to expel their envoys, following their joint call to release the arbitrarily detained Turkish philanthropist and human rights activist, Osman Kavala.
Without being convicted, Kavala, 64, has been in prison since October 2017. An unfortunate victim of Turkey’s deeply corrupt and politicized judicial system, Kavala has been a strong voice for the voiceless in Turkey. Throughout his philanthropic career, Kavala has been an advocate for Armenians, Kurds and other oppressed ethnic minorities, while being a strong proponent for social justice and much needed political reform in Turkey.
Last week’s joint international call for the release of Osman Kavala was a welcome multilateral initiative, holding the Erdogan regime accountable for its ever-worsening corruption and oppressive policies both at home and abroad.
However, following Erdogan’s foolish threats to expel the ambassadors of the signatory states, statements were released by eight out of ten embassies, stating their compliance with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – without first adequately responding to Erdogan’s threats to expel them from Turkey.
As recent memory has shown, this is not the first time Erdogan portrays himself as a strongman, who is willing to stand against any force that attempts to hold him accountable. Continuously humouring such behavior from President Erdogan will only embolden the already arrogant dictator, allowing him to continue leading his country towards becoming one of the most authoritarian and aggressive states in the world.
While it is of utmost importance for countries to abide by diplomatic norms and conventions and refrain from actively getting involved in the domestic politics of a third party, calling on the Government of Turkey – which is a member of the Council of Europe – to apply the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) does not constitute interference nor meddling in its internal affairs. All signatory states must continue their efforts at obtaining justice for Osman Kavala, particularly in the face of President Erdogan’s threats that he would never dare to actually carry out.
The Armenian National Committee of Canada calls on the Canadian Government to adopt a principled stance towards Turkey, stop placating authoritarian leaders and ensure that Ottawa will continue to forcefully promote justice and respect for human rights in Turkey and across the globe – regardless of the threats and intimidations of authoritarian leaders.
Armenian National Committee of Canada