Protesters clash with police and slam May for rolling out the red carpet for Turkish President Erdogan as he meets with the Queen and Prince Charles despite his ‘autocratic’ purge of opponents
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Britain for a three day visit when he will meet the PM and the Queen
- Protesters flocked to Downing Street and chanted he is a ‘fascist’ and called on Theresa May to disown him
- Mr Erdogan has launched a crackdown on political opponents in wake of the failed military coup against him
Anti-Erdogan protesters clashed with police outside Downing Street today as they tore into ministers for hosting the Turkish president as he locks up political opponents and human rights campaigners at home.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Prince Charles at his official residence Clarence House this morning – while the angry scenes erupted in nearby Whitehall.
And he will meet with Theresa May for talks – which are expected to cover security, the fight against terror and trade – later today.
The PM’s official spokesman today insisted that she will raise concerns about human rights with the Turkish leader when they meet later today.
But critics have accused her cosying up to a totalitarian leader for economic as he imposes a crackdown on political opponents, journalists and human rights campaigners in Turkey in the wake of the failed military coup against him in 2016.
Anti-Erdogan protesters clashed with police outside Downing Street today (pictured) as they tore into ministers for hosting the Turkish president as he locks up political opponents and human rights campaigners at home.
Pro-Kurdish groups raised concerns about human rights abuses by Mr Erdogan’s government and urged Mrs May to distance herself from the Turkish leader
The angry scenes erupted just hours before Theresa May is due to hold talks with President Erdogan at Downing Street
Many dozens of protesters gathered in Whitehall today (pictured) to vent their fury at the Turkish leader’s visit
Demonstrators hold placards as they protest against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the entrance to Downing Street amid a heavy police presence
As the protests raged President Erdogan was granted the honour of holding a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace today
President Erdogan’s wife Emine also met with the Queen. They were granted the audience despite criticisms from human rights campaigners that he used the failed military coup against him in 2016 to launch and unfair and autocratic crackdown on his critics
Today noisy protests erupted outside Downing Street with demonstrators chanting ‘Turkish state, fascist state’ through a public address system.
They waved banners opposite the gates to Downing Street branding Mr Erdogan a terrorist.
Why is Theresa May defying protesters to host President Erdogan in London?
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is visiting London. Here we look at the controversy surrounding the trip.
Why are protests being held over the visit?
Turkey’s president has faced intense criticism after purging opponents in the wake of the failed 2016 coup. Around 120,000 public servants have been sacked and at least 50,000 people detained, including lawyers, police officers and academics.
What about critics in the media?
Analysis by the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, a human rights organisation run by journalists, found 254 journalists and media workers were in jail in Turkey, as of May 8.
Turkey is now ranked 157 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
Why is No 10 keen for him to come?
Downing Street says the visit is an opportunity for Britain and Turkey to demonstrate their close relationship and Theresa May will be particularly keen to foster good links as the UK prepares to quit the European Union.
It comes 16 months after the Prime Minister met the president in Ankara, where they agreed a £100 million defence deal to help develop fighter jets for the Turkish air force.
Is this all about Brexit then?
Theresa May’s political opponents believe it is. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the Government ‘appears to have substituted diplomacy for sycophancy in its pursuit of Brexit’.
Pro-Kurdish groups raised concerns about human rights abuses by Mr Erdogan’s government and urged Mrs May to distance herself from the Turkish leader.
Mr Erdogan has been accused or purging opponents, sacking thousands of officials and jailing critics and journalists.
Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the Turkish leader, who is due to meet the Queen during his time in the country.
Downing Street insisted Mrs May will raise human rights issues during the talks, which are expected to be followed by a press conference.
‘Our close relationship with Turkey allows us to have frank discussions,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
‘You can expect the Prime Minister to raise human rights.
‘We have always been clear that we want Turkey to uphold its international obligations including respect for freedom of expression and political freedoms.
‘It is also an opportunity for the United Kingdom and Turkey to build on our close co-operation on counter-terrorism, migration, regional stability, trade and in other vital areas.
‘They have a close working relationship and there are many areas of shared interest which they look forward to discussing.’
Kurdish woman Meryl, 27, from London – who did not want to give her surname for fear of reprisals when she visits Turkey – was among scores of pro-Kurdish protesters outside Downing Street ahead of Mr Erdogan’s arrival.
‘He is literally killing humans – Kurdish children, babies, every human being,’ she said,
‘There are no human rights for Kurds in Turkey. If you are Kurdish, you get killed, you get raped.’
She said her message to Mrs May was: ‘Stop supporting Turkey. I’m sure she clearly sees there is a war in Turkey and civilians – not terrorists – are getting killed.’
Fellow protester Fero Firat said: ‘Erdogan is very authoritarian and he wants to be one man ruling every aspect of life in Turkey.
‘Since 2015 he has killed over 1,000 civilians in the Kurdish region.
‘Theresa May is selling weapons to Turkey and he is here, probably for that reason.
‘Our demand for the Prime Minister in the UK is not to sell weapons to Erdogan because he is using them against civilians.’
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Prince Charles at his official residence Clarence House this morning (pictured together) – while the angry scenes erupted in nearby Whitehall
The two men smiled and posed for the cameras as they met for talks at the royal residence today – but Mr Erdogan is facing heavy criticisms from human rights campaigners over his crackdown of political opponents in Turkey
Further down Whitehall, separated by a large police presence, a small counter-demonstration of Erdogan supporters waved Turkish flags.
Among the groups protesting against Mr Erdogan’s visit were Reporters Without Borders, the Cartoonists Rights Network International and the Index on Censorship.
Around 250 journalists and media workers are in jail in Turkey.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: ‘This visit is an opportunity for Theresa May to show the President that human rights and a thriving civil society in Turkey are a priority for the UK.
‘Under the cloak of a state of emergency, the Turkish authorities have deliberately set about dismantling civil society, locking up human rights defenders, shutting down organisations and creating a suffocating climate of fear.
‘Turkey must lift the current state of emergency and other such draconian measures before there is no independent, critical civil society left.
‘This should include the release of human rights defenders, including our Amnesty colleague Taner Kılıç, who has been held for almost a year without a shred of evidence.’
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