Free speech protestors 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. The move is widely regarded as a plan to shore up his power in the country and comes as international pressure mounts on the president for his suppression of political dissent. The early election is set to accelerate Turkey’s transition to a new presidential system approved in a referendum last year. Critics fear the new full executive powers afforded to the president will lead to one-man rule.
Meanwhile, a state of emergency remains in place in Turkey 22 months after a failed 2016 coup. 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).