Protests break out in London as Erdogan meets Queen Elizabeth, Theresa May

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) greets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a private audience at Buckingham Palace in London. (AFP)
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) greets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on outside of 10 Downing Street in central London. (AFP)
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Pro-Turkey demonstrators wave Turkish flags as they chant at others protesting against Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the entrance to Downing Street in central London on May 15, 2018, ahead of his meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2018

Protests break out in London as Erdogan meets Queen Elizabeth, Theresa May

  • Downing Street spokesman said a “frank discussion” on human rights was on the agenda for May’s meeting with Erdogan
  • Outside Downing Street on Tuesday, dozens of campaigners assembled in a protest organized by freedom of expression groups English PEN, Index On Censorship and Reporters Without Borders

LONDON: Angry protests greeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday as he met Queen Elizabeth II and held talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Minor scuffles broke out as pro-Erdogan counter-protesters walked in front of Kurdish demonstrators outside Downing Street, with police wrestling some of the ringleaders to the ground.
A Downing Street spokesman said a “frank discussion” on human rights was on the agenda for May’s meeting with Erdogan.
“We’ve always been clear that we want Turkey to uphold its international obligations, including respect for freedom of expression and political freedoms,” he said.
Queen Elizabeth welcomed Erdogan for a private audience at Buckingham Palace ahead of the May meeting.
The three-day visit comes as the Turkish leader campaigns for re-election after calling a snap poll for June 24, bringing the vote forward by a year and a half.
The move is widely regarded as a plan to shore up his power in the country and comes as international pressure mounts on the president over his suppression of political dissent.
Outside Downing Street on Tuesday, dozens of campaigners assembled in a protest organized by freedom of expression groups English PEN, Index On Censorship and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
RSF says over 100 journalists have been arrested, 140 media outlets shut down and at least 889 press cards rescinded since a crackdown began in 2016.
“We must make it clear to our government here that we do care about the fundamental freedoms — these values that our own country is anchored upon,” Reporters Without Borders UK chief Rebecca Vincent told protesters.
Calling for the release of imprisoned journalists, she added: “There is an election coming up.”
“Under the state of emergency people do not have full access to independent information, so you now have an electorate that will be going to the polls again after quite a short campaign period without having the full picture.”
“In light of that, for President Erdogan to be welcomed — given the red carpet — here in Britain is shameful.”
The demonstrators were later joined by a larger group protesting Erdogan’s treatment of the Kurds — as well as a handful of counter-protesters seemingly chanting in support of the president.
The pro-Kurdish campaigners held up placards with images of Erdogan and the word “Terrorist” across his face, as well as a flag bearing a picture of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
The early election is set to accelerate Turkey’s transition to a new presidential system approved in a referendum last year.
Critics fear the new full executive powers afforded to the president will lead to one-man rule.
Meanwhile a state of emergency remains in place in Turkey 22 months after a failed 2016 coup.
Erdogan has already stoked controversy on the trip by meeting Germany international footballers Mesut Ozil of Arsenal and Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City.
Turkey’s football chief on Tuesday condemned as “slanderous” and “unacceptable” German criticism of the meeting, with Berlin’s football association head Reinhard Grindel saying the pair had been “manipulated.”


Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

Updated 36 min 51 sec ago

Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

  • The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August
  • Judges ruled that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed

MANILA: A Philippine court threw out a high-profile, 32-year-old forfeiture case on Monday involving the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, citing insufficient evidence to order the return of $3.9 billion of allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August, with judges ruling that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed.
It has been referred to widely as the “mother” of cases in a three-decade effort by a special presidential panel to recover an estimated $10 billion allegedly siphoned off by Marcos and a family that had lived lavishly during his 20 years in power, 14 of which were ruled under martial law.
The case lodged by the Presidential Commission on Good Government had sought the return of 200 billion pesos ($3.93 billion) it said was tied up in equities, numerous local and foreign banks and real estate at home and in the United States and United Kingdom.
It also included the value of 177 paintings and 42 crates of jewelry worth nearly $9 million.
In a 58-page verdict, the court “acknowledged the atrocities committed during martial law under the Marcos regime and the ‘plunder’ committed on the country’s resources.”
“However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten wealth, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury.”
The same court dismissed similar cases against the family in August, September and October, all for lack of evidence.
Despite being overthrown in a 1986 revolt and driven into exile, the Marcos family remain a powerful force in the Philippines, with loyalists throughout the bureaucracy and political and business elite.
The late leader’s wife Imelda was a four-term congresswoman, daughter Imee is currently a senator, as was son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who has been tipped as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2022. A relative is the current Philippine ambassador to the United States.
The family has a powerful ally too in President Rodrigo Duterte, who has spoken well of the former dictator, backed Imee’s senate run and expressed a desire for Marcos Jr to have been his vice president.