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Secretary Kerry: “The United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a statement on the protests in Turkey during a press conference with his Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski after their meeting in Washington on June 3. Kerry expressed the U.S. support for freedom of expression, assembly, and a right to protest as well as U.S. concern over the excessive use of police violence, urging all involved to avoid any provocations of violence. Read the full excerpt below: 

“Now also I want to just say a word because we are following the events in Turkey obviously very, very closely, and as many of you know, we’ve been working very closely with the Turkish leadership. Prime Minister Erdogan was just here, and I have been working very closely with Foreign Minister Davutoglu on efforts with respect to the Middle East.

“As we have stated always to them in conversations as well as elsewhere in public, the United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly, including the right of people to peaceful protest, because that is fundamental to any democracy. And we are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police. We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force with respect to those kinds of incidents. And we urge all people involved, those demonstrating and expressing their freedom of expression and those in the government, to avoid any provocations of violence. Obviously, everybody was deeply concerned about the numbers of people who have been injured and about the level of violence to property.

“We don’t say these things to interfere in another country’s choices or events, but we say these things to reaffirm what we believe are universal principles and values that are essential to the practice of democracy and to the improvement of the relationship between governments and people.

“Our Ambassador has made our views known to senior officials and we have updated our travel advisories for American citizens in Turkey, reminding them of precautions to take in travel but also that they should not participate in these kinds of events. And obviously we hope that the people of Turkey and the Government of Turkey will find their peaceful way forward in the next days.”