An Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry: Know Before You Go

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry arrives in the UK at Stansted Airport on February 24, 2013 in Stansted, England. Kerry is embarking on his first foreign trip as Secretary of State with stops planned in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar before returning to Washington on March 6th. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I know you have a lot on your plate as you begin your first trip overseas as Secretary of StateYou’ll be visiting America’s allies in Europe and the Middle East, by my count nine countries in eleven days. According to press reports, the on-going conflict in Syria is going to be at the top of your agenda, which is as it should be. The latest estimates by the United Nations indicate that at least 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since unrest beganHuman rights violations there have been appalling and wide-spread.

While you continue your important work on Syria, however, I hope that you can spare some time for the on-going human rights violations elsewhere in the Middle East.  Sadly, many of these violations are undertaken by America’s allies in the region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.


"Kill All The Lawyers": Stifling Dissent in Turkey

Turkey’s jailing of writers has received increasing attention in both the Turkish and the international press, enough to force Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to defend the fact that Turkey has more journalists in prison,  describing them as “so-called journalists” who “ are actually “police murderers, sexual molesters and supporters of a coup”.

In 2011 Turkey imprisoned 104 journalists, causing Reporters Without Borders to drop Turkey’s press freedom ranking to 148th in the world.  Either the country has one of the most vicious and corrupt press corps in modern history or these arrests are politically motivated.  However, the Prime Minister will have none of this.  When American Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone stated that he was unable to understand the massive arrests, he was dismissed by Erdogan as a “rookie ambassador” who just didn’t understand Turkey.