World leaders gathering for the United Nations General Assembly should reject the abusive policies of autocratic populists and promote greater respect for human rights worldwide, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sept. 24. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was among the list of four leaders, who according to the HRW have led searing attacks on human rights at home, and at times, abroad.
Four leaders – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, US President Donald Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – will attend the annual General Debate at the UN headquarters on September 24, 2019.
“Rising authoritarianism is one of the gravest challenges that defenders of human rights face every day,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It’s essential that world leaders push back against the lineup of anti-rights crusaders who will open this year’s UN General Assembly this year.”
Egypt’s al-Sisi, whom Trump reportedly praised as his “favorite dictator,” has been crushing free speech and other basic rights for six years. Hallmarks of his rule include the unrestrained use of lethal force against protesters, and the widespread and systematic use of torture in detention facilities.
In Turkey, three years after a violent coup attempt in 2016, Erdoğan’s presidency has normalized state of emergency rule. More than 40,000 people are imprisoned on terrorism charges, few of the more than 130,000 public officials dismissed have been reinstated, elected Kurdish mayors have been removed and the country is the world’s top jailer of journalists.
One day before the general debate opens, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a summit on climate change to rally the 193 General Assembly members to adopt policies that protect the planet and its people.
One of the top issues at this year’s General Assembly is the fact that Brazil’s Bolsonaro has effectively given a green light to criminal networks destroying the Amazon rainforest and intimidating and attacking forest defenders.