ANKARA 

Turkey’s president on Thursday marked Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the day in 1948 the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a statement released by the country’s Communications Directorate, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the continued importance of the declaration, which he said reminds the international community of its responsibilities.

Asserting that Turkey built its administrative system on the principle of “let the people live, so the state may live,” Erdogan underlined the need for an approach focused on the people rather than the state. He said that through reforms, Turkey eliminated many hurdles that hindered its people’s rights and freedoms.

He underlined that by strengthening democracy, accelerating the functioning of law, and expanding ways to seek rights, his administration brought much higher standards to rights and freedoms in Turkey since it came to office 18 years ago.

He also emphasized that the Turkish government continues its reforms in line with the demands and expectations of the nation and according to emerging needs.

Today, cultural racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia pose the “greatest threat” to the principles of the declaration, Erdogan said.

Pandemic endangers rights

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we see in Western societies that obstacles to exercising inalienable rights guaranteed by this declaration, especially freedom of belief and worship, are growing,” he warned. 

“We face a dire picture in which the fundamental freedoms of billions of Muslims, from their right to life to their right to a fair trial, are trampled. Sacred values are humiliated under the guise of freedom of expression, and the language of hate is encouraged at the level of media bodies and countries’ presidents,” he added.

In recent months Erdogan has been outspoken in criticism of the Islamophobic agenda of Emmanuel Macron, France’s president.

Underscoring that Turkey warns of these threats at all international platforms, Erdogan said it seeks full implementation of the declaration for all people, regardless of their race, religion, or language.

“In the world that will be reshaped after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to restructure all policies on the axis of human rights and to develop effective mechanisms to eliminate injustices,” he added.

He went on to say that Turkey, inspired by history and civilizational values, will continue to struggle for the protection of fundamental freedoms and be a ray of hope for millions of people who have not yet achieved their rights guaranteed by the declaration.

Erdogan concluded by expressing hope that the coming days would bring health, peace, prosperity, and tranquility to the whole world.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday also marked Human Rights Day on Twitter, saying that people “should act together for a more just and equal world.”

“Only together we can defeat racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, which have risen during the time of global pandemic,” wrote Cavusoglu.

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