Amnesty International fired the first shots at Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday after he announced that a visit to the Netherlands for a public rally to promote votes in favor of an April 16 referendum was still planned, even though Dutch authorities had announced that such rallies were “undesirable.”
The Netherlands, however, canceled the flight clearance for Çavuşoğlu’s aircraft on Saturday shortly after he warned that Turkey would impose “harsh sanctions” on Holland if it were to take such a step.
“We just learned that you decided to come to the Netherlands. Would you care to bring along the 45,000+ signatures gathered to demand the release of jailed journalists? Or should we meet somewhere so we can give it to you. Regards. Amnesty International,” the organization said in a statement in Turkish. Amnesty is a London-based human rights organization.
Çavuşoğlu was planning to attend a rally in Rotterdam on March 11 in order to persuade Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands about a referendum on April 16 that will expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and switch Turkey to an executive presidency.
Reuters quoted a Dutch official as saying that Turkey’s “sanctions threat had made [the] search for [a] reasonable solution impossible.”
Amnesty International has recently launched a campaign for urgent action against the Turkish government’s increasing control over media outlets and imprisonment of journalists and writers following a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.
As part of the campaign, the organization managed to collect 45,000 signatures calling for the release of the journalists. There are currently at least 152 journalists behind bars across Turkey.