The 1 November elections were monitored by hundreds of independent observers, including several human rights lawyers, journalists and lawmakers from the UK. Lord Hylton, who was in Diyarbakir (south eastern Turkey) as part of a delegation over the election weekend, hosted a meeting in Parliament yesterday evening to discuss what they found. He was joined by other members of the UK delegation, who were in Turkey at the invitation of the mainly Kurdish HDP and also reported back on what they witnessed and what the outcome meant for Turkey and the Kurdish issue. You can read Margaret Owen’s report (also a member of the delegation) on the election at: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2015/11/05/observations-monitoring-the-election-in-diyarbakir/

I also spoke about the often brutal treatment of journalists and opposition media companies and quoted from the OSCE/PA International Election Observation Mission preliminary report published a few days ago at: http://www.oscepa.org/documents/all-documents/election-observation/election-observation-statements/turkey/press-releases-24/3108-2015-early-parliamentary-eng/file

Hannah Machlin from Index highlighted particular cases of attacks on journalists. More about them at: https://www.indexoncensorship.org/

It was a well-attended and informative meeting, and the visit had clearly made a lasting impression on the delegation. A number of ideas are now being considered for future activities.

Meanwhile The European Commission has finally called on Turkey urgently to address significant failings on human rights and democracy. The delayed annual report on Turkish prospects for EU membership says there have been serious setbacks in the past two years on freedom of expression. It also says the independence of the judiciary had been undermined and that new laws run against EU standards.

The report had held back by several weeks because of negotiations on the refugee crisis that were taking place with leading Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s, shortly before the elections. He was warmly received in Brussels when he visited the EU last month, to be followed by a subsequent visit from Angela Merkel to Istanbul!

You can read the European Commission report at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-6039_en.htm?locale=en