UK holiday-goers should vacation anywhere other than Turkey – activist

British tourists should reconsider Turkey as a holiday destination, activist Eliza Egret wrote in the Canary on Monday, as the United Kingdom looked set to waive its 14-day quarantine for people arriving from countries it considers to be low risk for the novel coronavirus.

Egret listed a number of reasons for vacationers to choose locations other than Turkey, from the increase in infections after the Turkish government’s normalisation process re-opened the economy to Ankara’s foreign and domestic policies.

After months of strict prevention measures and weekend curfews, Turkey entered its so-called normalisation phase on June 1 as cases in the country declined.

However, case numbers have steadily increased again since then, with more severe infection rates seen in several provinces including the popular tourist destination of Istanbul.

Germany announced in June that it extended until August a travel warning for holiday-goers wishing to visit Turkey and most other non-European countries.

“So maybe sitting on a stuffy plane packed with tourists coming back from Antalya isn’t the best idea,” Egret said, referring to Turkey’s southern resort hub.

The activist highlighted a series of political issues in Turkey that should keep British tourists away.

There are tens of thousands of political prisoners – including journalists, activists, opposition politicians and academics – in jail for criticising the Turkish government or insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has become “increasingly fascistic and dictatorial,” she said.

The London-based International Observatory of Human Rights said in January that Turkey remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists.

Egret also said Turkey “terrorises” women, citing the arrest of a pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) member in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

Sevil Rojbin Çetin, an HDP local government board member, was beaten and tortured by Turkish counterterrorism police during her arrest on Friday, according to HDP officials. Turkey has accused HDP members of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Egret also brought attention to an online campaign calling for the boycott of Turkey’s tourism industry, which the group behind the campaign says funds Turkish violence against the Kurdish people.

She cited Turkey’s ongoing military operation against the PKK, which is seeking political autonomy for Kurds, in northern Iraq – where five civilians have been reported killed in air strikes – and an incursion into northern Syria to create a buffer between the Turkish border and Syrian Kurdish armed groups that Ankara deems a threat to national security.

Kurdish officials have long accused Turkey and its allied Syria militia of serious crimes, including assimilation, forced displacement, kidnappings and murders after they took control of the Kurdish-populated northeastern Syrian district of Afrin in early 2018.