The United Kingdom has sold almost £50 million worth of arms to Turkey since its government clamped down on opposition groups after the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
According to newly published export statistics, Turkey, which is now a major buyer of British weapons, purchased £26 million worth of ML13 licences pertaining to exports of armored plate, body armor and helmets between July 1 and September 30.
Britain also sold Turkey £8.5 million worth of ML10 licences, for aircraft, helicopters and drones, and approximately £4 million worth of ML4 licences, for missiles, bombs and “counter-measures.”
In total, Turkey has bought £330 million in arms since 2015 and now it is on the UK Department for International Trade’s list of “priority markets” for arms exports.
The increased sales of weapons come amid concerns that the country might use the weapons in violation of human rights.
“The political situation in Turkey is unstable, and the crackdown has meant that the repression is getting even worse,” Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade was quoted by The Guardian as saying. “This should be a time for caution and the promotion of human rights, not arms sales. The government is always telling us how rigorous its arms export criteria supposedly are, yet it continues to arm and support repressive governments across the world.”
“The aftermath of the coup attempt has seen an erosion of democracy in Turkey, and Whitehall should not be legitimizing it. The rights of Turkish people are more important than arms company profits.”
Last week, Turkish lawmakers voted in favor of a controversial reform bill that would grant additional executive powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Under the new mechanism, which still has to be put to a national referendum for final approval, Erdogan would be allowed to serve two five-year terms in office, meaning he could be leading Turkey until 2029.
The constitutional reform package would also enable the president to appoint and dismiss government officials at his own discretion.
Since the failed coup, more than 125,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and nearly 40,000 others arrested.
Human rights groups say that opponents of the government have been tortured in jails.