Germany’s rally ban on Turkish ministers condemned

PARIS-The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE)'s Turkey Group president has termed the ban on Turkish ministers from addressing their community in Germany ahead of April 16 referendum in Turkey as a violation of human rights.

"We call on the Council of Europe to do its duty," Talip Kucukcan told Anadolu Agency ahead of the PACE Political Affairs Commission meeting in Paris on Monday.

"The repressive mindset against our ministers can never be associated with the values of the Council of Europe. Therefore, we will raise this issue during today's PACE Political Affairs Commission meeting in Paris," Kucukcan said.

An official petition has already been filed at the commission highlighting the unjust ban, he said.

It is one of the missions of PACE to protect lawmakers of member countries, he said, adding Turkey would do its best to prevent discrimination against its ministers and elected representatives.

There is a strong Turkish diaspora in Europe with a potential 2.5 million voters. Kucukcan said the ban on addressing this community is a direct violation of freedom of speech as well as the right to assembly.

While Turkish ministers and other government officials have been stopped from addressing their community abroad to brief them about the proposed constitutional reforms, politicians from other Turkish political parties have been able to visit Europe and meet the expat community, Kucukcan noted.

Nonetheless, he urged the Turkish community to go to ballot boxes and vote in the upcoming referendum.

On April 16, a referendum will take place in Turkey on constitutional reforms, including the crucial change to a presidential system of governance.

The statement comes after the municipality of Gaggenau in southwest Germany revoked last week its permission for Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag's rally for April 16 referendum, citing concerns about overcrowding. This prompted Bozdag to cancel his planned visit to Germany.

The cancellation by the Gaggenau municipality has drawn strong criticism from the Turkish government.

After the incident, Turkey's Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador, Martin Erdmann.

The referendum will ask for an up or down vote on changes such as giving Turkey's president wide-ranging executive powers and abolishing the post of prime minister.

Turkish citizens in Germany can cast their ballots from March 27 to April 9.

Germany is home to the largest Turkish expat community in the EU, numbering around 3 million.

Source: Anadolu Agency