We Will Not Allow Liquidation of Human Rights Values

10th of December Human Rights Day

We Are Against State of Emergency, Violence and War

We Defend Right to Peace

9th of December 2017

The December 10, 2017 marked the 69th anniversary of the adoption and declaration of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For a world in which grief caused by wars will not happen again and peace will prevail, the idea of United Nations organization has been put forward and initiatives have begun, while the World War II continued.

Thus, the United Nations Treaty was signed in the US city of San Francisco on June 26, 1945. It was put into force on October 24, 1945 as sufficient amount of countries have ratified the treaty. In the first two articles of the Treaty, it is stated that the United Nations was established for the purpose of peace. The “Introduction” section included the concept of human rights and emphasized the importance of human rights for keeping the peace. Likewise, Article 1 of UN Charter contains the principles of respect for human rights. As regards to the obligations of the member states of the United Nations, Article 55 of the UN Charter stipulates “promoting universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

Under the scope of UN, the preparation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights began with the establishment of Human Rights Commission on 29th of April 1946. Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of then-US president Roosevelt, was elected as the Commission President. Vice-President was from China and the reporter member was from Lebanon. The commission compromised of representatives of 18 states.

These 18 states were the USA, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, China, Philippines, France, India, United Kingdom, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Panama, USSR, Chile, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.

So, there were representatives from capitalist and socialist systems as well as Islamic countries. 80 experts from different geographies, ethnicities, religious and philosophical beliefs were working under the scope of the Commission. The first official draft of the declaration was prepared by the French representative Professor Rene Cassin, a constitutional lawyer who will later win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968. The reporter Joseph Malik was from Lebanon. Malik made a great contribution to add the term “human dignity” within the declaration.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, prepared by the Commission and consisted of an introduction and 30 articles, was accepted and proscribed on the December 10, 1948 at the UN General Assembly in Paris, capital of France. 56 of the 58 countries which had the right to vote in the General Assembly have participated in the voting and 48 of the participant countries voted positively. Turkey is amongst the countries which voted positively. 8 participant countries abstained from voting. 6 of these countries are socialist countries; Soviet Union, Belarus, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia.

Saudi Arabia and South Africa also abstained from voting the whole Declaration.

Turkey published the Universal Declaration in the Official Gazette by the Council of Minister’s decision. It was published in the issue no. 7217 dated May 27, 1949 of the Official Gazette. The decision published in the Official Gazette is as follows: “In the meeting of council of ministers dated 6.4.1949, upon the letter of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 28.3.1949 and no. 36084/122, it was approved to publish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the resolution no 217(111) of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 10.12.1948 in the Official Gazette, interpret it in schools and other educational institutions after the publication and publicize about it in radios and newspapers.”

The Universal Declaration has been translated into more than 500 languages. This makes the Declaration ‘the most translated human rights document’.

The United Nations General Assembly declared “10 December” as “Human Rights Day” with the decree no. 423(V) at the meeting held on December 4, 1950. “10 December Human Rights Day” is a celebration of a Declaration which is a source of inspiration for billions of people like the Universal Declaration, as well as an occasional day to talk and discuss on human rights problems and to search for solutions to them.

discussing the human rights problems all over the world and an opportunity to search for a solution.

The introduction section of the Universal Declaration, accepted on 10 December 1948 specifies that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, and if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression.

In spite of this, an international order based on the rights and freedoms in the Universal Declaration could not still be established. There is no sufficient protection of the fundamental idea that people have rights and immunities from being human beings regardless of their race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion and sect, belief, ethnical identity, political, conscience and philosophical conviction. Unfortunately, today, the United Nations is contradicting its existential cause by not being effective enough to prevent/end wars and civil wars that are the primary reason of violation of rights, intervene in refugee crisis, protect natural and cultural heritage on a global scale, fight against poverty and injustice, end every kind of discrimination especially against women. Even so, it has not been able to make a statement about the bombing, probably air strike, of the Iraqi Mahmur Camp on the 7 December 2017 which is under the auspices of the UN. Herewith, we condemn this attack and invite the UN to find the responsible persons and bring them to international jurisdiction as soon as possible.

Today, the ideal of common life based on human rights is under great threat from the regimes of the state of emergencies on the global scale caused by any kind of economic, cultural, religious, ethnic, or any other type of “war”. This ideal is sacrificed on the agreements of bilateral trade or international regional interests. In fact, what we face now is a great humanity crisis. The appearance of such crisis both in Turkey and worldwide is the systematisation of all forms of violence, which is becoming widespread and imposed on societies as a sole fact of the life.

Unfortunately, there is a state of emergency implementation in our country for nearly a year and a half now. On the one hand, the core problems of the country are becoming more serious with the influence of continuing war politics in and out of the country, on the other hand division of powers and independence of judiciary have disappeared, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey made dysfunctional, and all the political power is gathered in one hand. These circumstances, State of Emergency implementations, have become a means of moving away from the idea of a regime based on human rights in terms of political power. The aspect of moving away appears on the limitation of rights gained by women or women’s movement and attacks to these rights, banning and targeting of all events of the LGBTI+ movement, harassment and discrimination against different ethnic and belief groups, arrest and trail of human rights defenders. In fact, for the rights defenders this is an attempt to liquidate human rights values in social life.

After this short review, we will look at the various categories of rights violations that took place in Turkey in 2017;

State of Emergency Implementations and Violations Caused by Executive Orders (KHK)

Either our Constitution or the universal legal norms, that the Turkey is also subjected to, establish sharp regulations for interim regime implementations like state of emergency, which seriously restricts/violates the fundamental rights and freedoms by giving political powers the ability to do what they cannot do in the time of normal governance regime implementations.

Accordingly, the state of emergency must, above all, be limited and provisional implementation under Articles 120 and 121 of the Constitution and relevant international rules. It must be open to national and international judicial review. There are rights that cannot be limited in any ways, even during state of emergency. These can be referred as core rights. The second paragraph of Article 15 of the Constitution states that the individual’s right to life, the integrity of his/her corporeal and spiritual existence shall be inviolable, no one shall be compelled to reveal his/her religion, conscience, thought or opinion, nor be accused on account of them; offences and penalties shall not be made retroactive; nor shall anyone be held guilty until so proven by a court ruling. In addition, the same rights cannot go into abeyance according to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights, that Turkey is a party to and had ratified. However, looking at the below mentioned statement, which is missing at this stage, we can conveniently say that Turkey violates the Article 15 of the Constitution, Article 15 of the ECHR and Article 4 of the UN Covenant on Civil Rights.

When we look at the implementation, the current state of emergency regime does not fulfill any of the above listed rules. It went beyond its reason for declaration, became permanent rather than temporary. Furthermore, even if state of emergency was lifted today, its effects would continue for years, since the ordinary laws are amended, tens of thousands of people are removed indefinitely from civic service. The national judicial review has become ineffective due to the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and has lost its actuality due to ECHR decision. The most brutal is that the basic/core rights are blatantly violated.

While the reason for the state of emergency was the fight against the coup attempt, the executive orders made citizens unrelated to each other by violating “right to have rights”, namely violating their right to be citizens. In fact, excluding human from being citizens means excluding them from a person (human). In short, the state of emergency has become a tool of heavy pressure on the whole society. According to the bill no. 121 of the Constitution, the executive orders must be presented to the approval of the National Assembly in the days of publication. 28 executive orders have been published so far, starting from the order no. 667 to no. 694. Some of these executive orders were not presented in the same day in the Parliament, which was a violation of the Constitution.

According to the bill no. 121 of the Constitution and the bylaw of the Parliament, executive orders under the state of emergency must be discussed within the 30 days in the Parliament and a decision on the matter should be made.  Up until today, only the executive order no. 667 approved by the law no. 4749, the executive order no. 668 approved by the law no. 6755, the order no. 669 approved by the law no. 6756, the order no. 671 approved by the law 6757, and the order no. 674 approved by the law no. 6758, which were published in the Official Gazette. In this regard, the approval of the Parliament was done only for 5 executive orders out of 28, but not for the rest of 23, which clearly violated the Constitution.

Besides the unconstitutional declaration of the state of emergency and not submitting the executive orders to the Parliament approval, the state of emergency has been made permanent in terms of changing the legal system by making permanent amendments of nearly 300 laws for 306 times so far.

The Constitutional changes were approved by the unlawful decision of the Supreme Electoral Council in the 16 April 2017 as a result of the anti-democratic behavior of the political power under the state of emergency. The model of Turkish-style presidency based on the governance of one person or the model of party-affiliated presidency was adopted. During the changeover of this model, the party-affiliated president immediately started his actions and Turkey became a party-state under the circumstances of the state of emergency.

As seen, the most important reason of perpetual extension of the state of emergency is nothing rather than an effort to sustain the power of the governing party with the anti-democratic regulations. There is a clear violation of the constitution.

During the state of emergency, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner visited Turkey several times and submitted reports on this matter, Council of Europe Venice Commission visited Turkey 4 times and prepared reports on it, United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner’s 3 special rapporteurs visited Turkey and prepared reports. The reports stated that arbitrary treatments beyond the limitations in accordance with the agreements on basic rights and freedoms during state of emergencies are practiced and the state of emergency should be lifted by amending all fast.

The most crucial notice to Turkey during the state of emergency has come from the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s decision to reopen the monitoring procedure on the 25 April 2017 is a highly important decision. In the decision, it was indicated that Turkey should lift the state of emergency, the politicians, journalists and activists jailed for their opinions should be released and a range of recommendations was delivered.

The law no. 6722 was adopted on the 14 July 2016 right before the declaration of the state of emergency in order protect the state officials who were the perpetrators of rights violations during the curfews. The law was retroactive.

As if this were not enough, in many executive orders, including no. 667 and 668, impunity was fully assured by regulating no criminal, legal, financial or administrative responsibility for the state officials taking any action during the state of emergency and any form of arbitrariness for the state officials became a possibility.

We would like to indicate specifically that searching for justice is impossible under the state of emergency circumstances where impunity has become a state policy.

As far as we can determine, the statement which has developed under the state of emergency since 21st July 2016:

  • With the Decree No. 667, which entered into force on 23 July 2016, the duration of custody was extended to 30 days. With the Decree Law No. 668, which entered into force on 27 July, the first 5 days of the custody were imposed with a lawyer. This application was applied continuously for 6 months. With the Decree No. 682, which entered into force on January 23, 2017, the length of custody was reduced from 30 days to 14 days and the lawyer’s opinion on the law was reduced to the first day in custody. Under these conditions, the Ministry of Justice verbally declared that, as of July 2017, 169,013 persons had been taken into police custody by judicial proceedings, 50,510 were arrested, 43489 were released by judicial control, others were released without any proceedings during the period of detention, 8,087 people were found to be on the run.
  • We have experienced a process that 11 members of the parliament, including the HDP co-presidents Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were in jail and 5 members of the parliament together with Figen Yüksekdağ were relieved of their MP duties.
  • The executive orders during the state of emergency took possession of 94 municipalities, including 89 Democratic Regions Party’s municipalities, detained 74 elected co-mayors who served in the possessed municipalities, detained 28 HDP province co-presidents and 89 city co-presidents, 780 HDP province and city administrators. This process is ongoing.
  • We have experienced a process that 113.440 civic servants were dismissed from their public duties, 1852 of them were given back to their duties by the unconstitutional executive orders in an environment where the Constitutional Court was deactivated during the state of emergency. 22.474 people (mostly teachers) who served in the private institutions that were shut down lost their work permits. Only 614 of them got back their permits.
  • 4240 judges and prosecutors were dismissed by the decision of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecuters. Only 166 of them got their duties back.
  • 48 private health institutions were shut down, 2 of them were reopened.
  • 2325 private educational institutions (schools, dormitories, and student residences). 15 private universities were shut down, the activity of 19 unions and confederations were terminated.
  • In this process, the number of the companies appointed trustees by the government was 969, the economic size of them was 41 billion Turkish liras, and the number of the workers was around 47 thousands.
  • The major damage during the state of emergency was on freedom of expression, thereby on freedom of press. The number of the press institutions shut down, particularly printed and visual media, is 185; only 23 of them got permitted to reopen.
  • Big number of journalists is detained during the state of emergency. 174 journalists are still in jail. The number of the journalists whose yellow press cards were canceled in 2016 is 889.
  • During the state of emergency, 1412 associations and 139 foundations were shut down. It was stated that most of the associations and foundations were accused of having ties with the Fetullah Gülen organization, the rest of them was indicated to have ties with other illegal organizations without any concrete reason.
  • Under the state of emergency conditions, violations of freedom of expression have hit the peak. According to the official statistics of the Ministry of Justice in 2016, 4187 people were sued due to insulting the president, through the Article 299 of Turkish Penal Code. 482 lawsuits were opened on insulting the Turkish nation through the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. In addition to this, 17.322 people were sued due to making propaganda for illegal organizations in 2016. This picture increasingly continued in 2017. Since the statistics for 2017 are announced the following year, we would like to indicate only that the trend of increase continues.

RIGHT TO LIVE

The political power’s internal and external war policies constitute the main cause of the violations of the right to live in 2017. On the other hand, violations of the right to life are not limited only to the violations by the state security forces. It also includes the violations by third parties in which the government failed to fulfil its “prevention and protection” obligation.

According to the data from HRFT Documentation Centre, during the first 11 months of 2017;

  • 36 people lost their lives and 12 people were wounded due to the extra judicial execution of the law enforcement officers, the failure to comply with the stop order or random shooting.
  • Due to armed conflicts, a total of 695 people, including 183 soldiers, police, village guards, 460 militants, and 52 civilians have lost their lives. In the same period, a total of 310 people,including 282 soldiers, police, and village guards and 28 civilians.
  • A total of 23 people, including 6 children, lost their lives and 46 people were wounded due to the crash of armoured vehicles belonging to the security forces.
  • 6 people, 5 of them being children, have lost their lives and 25 people, 18 of them being children, were injured as a result of mine and unattended bombs etc.
  • At least 10 people, including 3 children, have lost their lives for various reasons in the prison. The number of the people who have lost their lives in prison due to various reasons are at least 17 people as HRA (Human Rights Association of Turkey – IHA) could determine.

(As a response to the CHP Istanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş’s question about the prisoners who committed suicide in prisons in 2016, the Ministry of Justice announced that 66 prisoners have committed suicide in 2016 and 40 prisoners have committed suicide since the 15 July coup-attempt.)

  • According to the HRA data, during the first 11 months of 2017, 322 women, at least 23 suspicious, 68 children, at least 7 suspicious, have lost their lives for various (male violence and other) reasons.
  • According to the data of the Occupational Health and Safety Council, during the first 11 months of 2017, at least 1851 workers have lost their lives as a result of work-related accidents/ killings.

TORTURE & ILL-TREATMENT

The significant increase on torture and other forms of ill-treatment in official detention centers during the state of emergency on the grounds to suppress the military coup attempt and during the conflict that started after July 2015 in the South Eastern and Eastern Anatolia continued in 2017 as well.  We can say that in such a climate, there is an increase in torture practices for forensic reasons. The same trend is seen in allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners in prison conditions under the state of emergency conditions. On the other hand, during social demonstrations, violence methods applied by security officers to persons exercising their right to demonstration and walking reach the dimensions of torture and other ill-treatment.

  • A total of 570 people applied to Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) in the first 11 months of 2017 with an alleged exposure to torture and ill-treatment. 328 of those applicants stated that they had experienced torture and ill-treatment within the same year.
  • According to Human Rights Association (HRA) data, in the first 11 months of 2017 a total of 2278 people have encountered torture and ill-treatment, 428 of them beaten or with other methods in detention, 1855 of them were outside of detention centers in meetings and demonstrations intervened by the security forces.
  • According to the data announced by HRA on 30 May 2017, there were 11 cases of enforced abduction and disappearances, mostly in Ankara. 4 of these people were later released and 1 of them committed suicide. In addition, many people have been kidnapped and threatened, subjected to torture and ill-treatment especially in Ankara and its region. Likewise, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported five incidents of kidnapping that could be ‘enforced disappearances. One of these cases was that a person who was kidnapped in Ankara (who had been detained in a secret place for 42 days and been subjected to alleged torture) was later found detained by the police.
  • The duration of custody is still 14 days due to the state of emergency and various limitations have been imposed on access to the lawyer by the executive orders.
  • Procedural securities that have an important role in preventing the torture but which have been largely neglected for many years in practice have been significantly damaged in the final outcome of the legal arrangements made with the executive orders during the state of emergency. Based on these legal arrangement, procedural securities such as informing the person on detention, informing the third parties, access to lawyer, access to doctor, proper examination in proper places, preparing duly reports, applying immediately to a judicial authority for legal check, keeping detention records properly, and the possibility of independent monitoring have been removed majorly in recent times. It is possible to express that an arbitrary atmosphere is created on this matter.
  • International prevention mechanisms under the United Nations and the Council of Europe, which are crucial tools to prevent the practices of torture and ill-treatment, are restricted to be able to work efficiently. There is no respect to any notice or recommendations of these mechanisms. The Turkish Government has not permitted the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to publish the completed report on observation and evaluation from their unplanned visit to Turkey in September 2016.
  • Although the Turkey Human Rights and Equality Institution is authorized to act as national prevention mechanism, it does not exercise its authority, does not review the applications on torture and ill-treatment. Likewise, the Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights Inquiry is ineffective as it does not do examination on place.
  • Impunity is still the biggest obstacle on struggle with torture. The matter of impunity is still in front of us standing as the key fact enabling torture for reasons such as not investigating the perpetrators, not prosecuting the investigated cases, filing indictments on lower crimes instead of torture, not punishing the defendants or punishing on the other grounds, delaying the penalties.
  • Torture and ill-treatment practices have become widespread and ordinary during the state of emergency. Impunity stands out for the cases that are publicly known or referred to court. According to the Ministry of Justice’s official statistics of 2016, the number of lawsuits on the ground of torture (the article 94 of the penal code) is 42, the number of lawsuits on the ground of torment, which requests a lower punishment, is 340. On the other hand, the number of lawsuits on resisting to police officers (the article 265 of the panel code) was 26.195. As it is seen, although there is no condition to resist a police officer under the state of emergency circumstances (In all events, police uses pressured water, paper gas, and rough power to disperse the protesters who cannot resist police), the lawsuits aiming to protect police are opened to conceal the practices of torture and ill-treatment. The statistics show the high practice of impunity in the state of emergency circumstances.

KURDISH PROBLEM 

As human rights defenders, we have been emphasizing for decades the fact that Kurdish issue is the most important aspect of Turkey’s human rights and democracy problem and if this issue cannot be resolved in a peaceful and democratic way, Turkey’s human rights and democracy problems will not be solved. Hence, with reverting back to the war policies in July 2015, relatively the tranquility in terms of human rights caused by the peace process was replaced with chaos and severe human rights violations. Under this scope, violations have continued in 2017 with full intensity.

‘Curfews’, which were implemented intensely during 2015-2016, led to the violation of at least 1.5 million people’s most basic rights to life and health to reside in the provinces and territories that curfew was implemented, stated as having no legal basis on both national and international law by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and the Commissioner of Council of Europe Human Rights, have continued in 2017 with all of its negativity in short-term and small-scale.

A total of 94 province and district municipalities located in the region were managed by the appointed trustees under the state of emergency conditions, various lawsuits were filed against the co-mayors selected by people. 68 co-mayors are still arrested.

As well as the HDP Co-Presidents Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, 9 MP’s are currently under arrest. 5 of the HDP MP’s deputy jobs were cancelled.

As human rights organisations, we have always supported a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish problems. We insist on it. For that reason, we want the conflicts to stop immediately. We want the parties to switch to an environment in which there is no conflict. We also ask all parties to fortify, strengthen and monitor the conflict-free state and consentaneously take decisions.

We support the Dolmabahce Declaration, declared on 28 February 2015, and we want its requirements to be done.

We want the government to lift Abdullah Öcalan’s isolation, clean the road for its solution, establish appropriate administrative, legal and political ground for negotiations and start negotiations as soon as possible.

We believe that it is dependent on human rights for the world and Turkey’s alienation from world and exist in a world of peace. We want Turkey to withdraw the political projects it is trying to implement in the Middle East, recognize Rojava cantons, in accordance with the principle of people determining their own future, and establish good neighbor relations.

FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, EXPRESSION AND BELIEF 

Political powers’ increasing ominous pressure and control on the media with the declaration of the state of emergency have continued in 2017 as well. Serious violations have occurred in the field of freedom of thought and expression. During this year many indictments against  journalists, writers, human rights advocates etc. occurred, many arrests happened, magazines and books were confiscated, newspapers were closed.

According to Bianet’s media observation report, as of 1 October 2017, 122 journalists, including 19 convicts, are in prison. While 68 of the arrested journalists are still on trial, 35 of them is still under investigation. Access to a large number of websites has been blocked.

Access to Sendika.org was blocked 61 times, to the website of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi Gazetesi 42 times. Since 29 April 2017, Wikipedia cannot be accessed. The last example of these prohibitions constitutes a denial of access to news published on the Cumhuriyet Newspaper website regarding the Paradise Papers.

Alevis’ demands for equal citizenship could not find response in 2017 either. The ECHR decisions on the abolition of the compulsory religious course and the acceptance of the Cem Houses as a place of worship have not been fulfilled.

Alevis, Christians, and Jews have been exposed to threatening and hate speeches by radical Sunni and racist groups.

The fact that the right to conscientious objection is still not recognized is an important violation of human rights.

Many academics who have signed the statement for peace on 6 January 2016 was expelled from their public office, forced to leave Turkey. Istanbul public prosecution office have openly violated the freedom of expression rights by opening a public case against 148 Peace Academy Scholars in accordance with the TMK Article 7/2.

PRISONS

Prisons continued to be the places where human rights violations were most intense in 2016.

  • As of 1 November 2017, there were 230,735 detainees/convicts in prisons. This number was 178.089 in 2015 and 154.179 in 2014. When AKP came into power, this number was 59.429. According to TSI (Turkish Statistical Institute) total population in the prison was more than the population of Turkey’s 13 provinces.
  • The beating during the entrance of the prison and later on, accusation of political prisons as “terrorist” and beatings for this reason, naked search implementations, arbitrary treatment in any kind and arbitrary disciplinary action, cell punishments, uniform dress impositions, exile and referral practices in the recent history have reached unusual dimensions.
  • “The Triple Protocol”, which was first regulated by the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, and Health in the 6 January 2000, is known as it is against law and human rights and disregards patient rights, detainee/convict’s rights, and medical ethic. The Protocol was renewed in the 21 January 2017. The Protocol, which could not be accepted in human rights and health fields, was revealed to be more unserious, inhuman and unlawful with the renewed version.
  • There are serious problems in the field of right to health in prisons. It is observed that detainees and convicts face important obstacles in terms of access to medical support and medical staff and tools are not present in prisons. There are 1037 ill prisoners in Turkish prisons, including 361 seriously ill, as far as the HRA could determine. Most of these persons who were hardly having treatment in the prisons in Ankara, İstanbul and İzmir were exiled to the other prisons in order to open some space for thousands of people detained after the coup attempt in 15 July 2016. Their treatment is in danger. 361 people whose conditions are heavy should be essentially released in a humanistic and lawful manner. It is conscientiously and legally not acceptable to make wait and reject the most of the files of the detainees and convicts who have reports of Forensic Medicine Institute showing that they cannot live on themselves because of heavy illness and disability. According to the Ministry of Justice’s data, 451 detainees and convicts whose heavy illness was known by the Forensic Medicine Institute have lost their lives in prison in the last 5 years. Besides, the reliability of this data is another discussion topic. Required legal and administrative precautions should be taken immediately to release the ill prisoners and ensure their treatments. If necessary, the article 16 of the law of execution should be changed or the problem should be solved with a temporary article.
  • The system of punishment execution based on lockdown and treatment, which has been practiced since 2000, continues to threat detainees and convicts’ physical, social and mental integrity. The social relationship among detainees and convicts is restricted by the system of single or two-person rooms. The situation harms heavily on their mental health. The Ministry of Justice’s regulation aiming at softening this isolation circumstances (no. 45/1, dated on 22 January 2007) on 10 detainees/convicts to be able to have 10 hours a week to socialize is still in force but not practiced efficiently and unproblematic. The absolute quarantine on Abdullah Öcalan who is in the İmralı F-Type Prison should be lifted and be meeting with his family and lawyers. The prison should be shut down as soon as possible.
  • The persons’, families’ and other prisoners’ applications to the HRA demonstrates that the children in prison are not able to stomach prison conditions, have serious psychological blockage, hurt themselves, attempt to suicide but also face harassment, abuse, torture and ill-treatment. Scientific studies from various disciplines reveal that punishment in general, but closure in more specific, have not effect on crime prevention or education. For this reason, child prisons, which are inhuman practices, should be shut down.
  • There are serious claims of torture and ill-treatment in the complaint letters or lawyer applications coming from the Turkish prisons. Such claims have been increased especially since the declaration of the state of emergency. Turkey has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), made a legal arrangement with the national preventive mechanism, but not started to put in practice, which is contrary to the convention. The law of Turkey Human Rights and Equality Institution was published in the Official Gazette on 20 April 2016 and came into force. The duty of the national prevention mechanism, which reviewing and preventing the claims of torture and ill-treatment was given to the Institution. On this matter we would like to indicate firstly that the Law was not prepared in accordance with the UN Paris Principles, we have submitted our written and oral comments and recommendations on the issue to the National Parliament Human Rights Investigation Commission and the government. However, despite our objection, there is no action taken because the committee, which should have been established so that the Commission would work, has not been formed yet. The Turkish prisons should be immediately investigated by independent delegations. They should give permission to the representatives of human rights organizations to have investigation in prisons.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND OPPRESSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATONS AND DEFENDERS

The enforced closure of unions, associations and foundations under the state of emergency and with the executive orders demonstrates that freedom of assembly is seriously under the pressure of the political power. Some of the human rights organizations were targeted or shut down with the state of emergency orders. 2017 was a year in which a big number of human rights defenders, notably our institutions’ managers, members, workers and lawyers, was arrested, even detained by violating the principles of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We have experienced a year that the human rights defenders were arrested and detained after the police raid during a training, jailed for 4 months and released, as we know it as “the Büyükada Case”.  Amnesty Turkey Branch’s chairperson Lawyer Taner Kılıç, human rights defender Osman Kavala, the Progressive Legists’ Association’s president Selçuk Kozağaçlı, and many other NGO managers, members and lawyers are still arrested. Totally 47 lawyers were detained  during the police interventions to statements or police raids to their homes in 2017. 17 of the lawyers were arrested.

The political oppression on the HRA continued, the audit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was started in June 2016, had an end in September 2017. As a result of the audit, the HRA was sued due to cancelling the decisions taken in the general assembly in 2014 and the audit file was sent to the Ankara General Attorney requesting to open a public lawsuit for the illegal elements, if exist. Likewise, it is not certain what will be done with the audit reports for the HRFT. The decisions of closure for the Agenda Child Association, Human Rights Research Association, Progressive Legists’ Association, Libertarian Legists’ Association, Refugee Rights Association was not enough, but the oppression politics have continued.

Ankara General Attorney’s investigation on our reports during the curfews is ongoing.

2017 was also a year that high number of human rights defenders and activists had to leave Turkey.  Lawyer Hasan Anlar, HRA’s secretary-general and HRFT board member, had to leave Turkey. Lawyer Halil İbrahim Vargün, the HRA’s former-member of central executive board and Ankara Branch Board Member, who was on the same trial, is still in jail. The former-head of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) and many former managers of KESK’s unions had to leave Turkey. The lawsuits that our friends are tried are actually the compassed trials that were set up by police, prosecutors, and judges who are the members of the Fetullah Gülen organization. The political power admitted the compass in some trials that suits them but not in the trials of our friends. The lawsuits demonstrated that jurisdiction is under the pressure and guidance of the political power.

Investigation and trials are still ongoing for a big number of the HRA and HRFT managers and the activists of other human rights organizations.

On the occasion of 10 December Human Rights Day, we indicate that we are in solidarity with all human rights defenders debarred from their freedom and they should be released.

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND DEMONSTRATION

2017, as in previous year, has been an extraordinary year of violations and restrictions in terms of assembly and demonstration. With the authority given by the state of emergency, governorships of many provinces have taken the decision to prohibit one-off, one-on-one, and one-on-one for various meetings, demonstration, and events. These prohibitions range from a meeting about the negative effects of geothermal power plants to high school and university festivals, cultural, artistic and natural festivals to LGBTI + events.

Some of these prohibitions have a symbolic prefix that makes the world of mentality of political power open. The Trans and Pride Marches , which are organized by LGBTI+ individuals for years, were banned in many cities this year. Ankara Governorship recently banned first the LGBTI+ Movie Days, and later all events organized by the LGBTI+ organizations.  Police violence is a tough administrative technique that all governments can easily refer to throughout the history of the republic. However, the AKP government has been using the police violence at every occasion for all the social sectors opposed to its own policies, which is getting intolerant to criticism and objections day by day and has reached the final limit of authoritarianism. Almost all social group, including Kurds, laborers, Alevis, women, LGBTI individuals, and football fan groups, have one share of this violence.   In 2017, law enforcement officers resorted to extreme / unmeasured / disproportionate power and violence by using pressure water plastic bullets, chemical weapons / demonstration control agents and even firearms in hundreds of peaceful demonstrations.

As far as the HRFT Documentation Center could determine, in the first 11 months of 2017, the law enforcement officers who intervened 350 meetings and demonstrations detained 1998 persons.  Almost all demonstrations are banned and not permitted in the East and the South East of Turkey. According to the findings of the HRFT-HRA Documentation Centers on the public workers who had been involved with the press release etc. during the year in front of the Human Rights Monument in Ankara Yuksel Caddesi, which was exported with an executive order and returned to their offices, there were 232 police interventions and 586 cases of detention. Semih Özakça, Veli Sacılık, Acun Karadağ and over 10 laborers joined Nuriye Gulmen, who started the sit-in protest saying “I want my job back” on November 9, 2016 in Ankara Yuksel Caddesi. Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Özakça are on the 275th day of hunger strike which they started later. Esra Özakça also stages hunger strike with her spouse. They are not taken back to their jobs yet. We ask the commission of the state of emergency to make the people return their jobs.

The HRA headquarter wanted to give a statement about the interventions to the Yüksel resistance, which is a protest of legal remedies on 9 November 2017, but the president and a group of managers were detained and prevented from making a statement.

Ankara Governorship did not allow the HRA to apply for a statement on Yuksel Caddesi on the human rights day on 10 December 2017. However, the AKP supporters’ protests on Jerusalem have been provided convenience for several days. We stand on the side of right to demonstration. But we also condemn the bans to demonstrations for human rights. As can be seen, the state of emergency is used arbitrary in accordance with political needs.

ISSUE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

With international cooperation, struggle of women has obtained important achievements in statue law. Also, highly important agreements regulated in international law on violence against women are signed by the Republic of Turkey.  However, our achievement either on domestic law or on international law does not take any place in the jurisdiction.

 Judges and prosecutors are extremely insensitive towards the international agreements. The most important of these agreements is perhaps the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention. Moreover, the Republic of Turkey is the first signatory of this agreement.  The agreement aims at preventing the violence against women or domestic violence. The third article of such important contract defines the objective of the contract as:  “‘Violence against women’ is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender‐based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” The article 6 of the convention entails the duty of developing ‘gender sensitive policies’ to all state parties. The Istanbul Convention is an important contract on creating productive policies in the field of violence against women and taking preventive measures against violence. However, let alone judges and prosecutors implementing this, they are not aware of such contract. This is a desperate situation when we think that international contracts are of binding quality on local statue law.  The article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which was signed by Turkey as well, gives a task to the signatory states to ‘modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women’. The social violence legitimized particularly after the state of emergency following the 15 July coup attempt creates negative effects on the practice of violence against women. Following the declaration of the state of emergency, the observed increase of the cases of violence against women, the examples of official violence against women, the practices imposed on women in prisons are the clear examples. Along with the state of emergency, a large number of women were dismissed from their jobs, many exported women organizations were shut down, and many women were imprisoned as a violation of freedom of expression. It is unfortunate that these practices continue on Human Rights Week, which began on December 10th. The state of emergency “beat” the women the most, it was a “coup” on the women’s freedom.

We want the termination of male violence against women, the unconditional practice of equality and anti-discrimination in social and public spheres and the state to fulfill the obligations on this matter. The HRA, together with the FIDH, has submitted an alternative report to the CEDAW committee against Turkey’s report. Turkey was assessed after some meetings and sessions. The CEDAW Committee made some recommendations to the Republic of Turkey on 25 July 2016. The recommendations, which we agree on, can be summarized as:

  • To stop the repressive measures practiced against the representatives of women organizations and rights defenders, ensure their active participation in the process,
  • To eliminate the inequalities practices against Kurdish women and women refugees and asylum seekers,
  • To strengthen the Directorate General on the Status of Women technically and financially, ensure their focus on women rights,
  • To put an end to prejudges and discriminatory speeches,
  • To implement the National Action Plan to stop gender based violence, make necessary legal arrangements, arrange support services, establish an emergency hotline, which can be operated in several languages,
  • To make legal arrangements towards the women’s decision on abortion until the 10th week of the pregnancy and until the 20th week in case of rape,
  • To give enough punishment to the murders committed to so-called honor killing, have effective investigation on women’s suicides and accidents,
  • To have legal recognition and registration of marriage.

 AS A CONCLUSION;

As we are entering 69th year of the adoption of the world’s most contemporary human rights document, the data we have organised above and the evaluations we have carried out shows that unfortunately, we are quite far from the ideal that universal human rights values can be deployed entirely in Turkey and worldwide.

The state of Emergency which had been implemented for more than a year and a half is the primary source of the heavy and serious human rights violations that took place in 2017 and it must be stopped immediately. Democracy cannot be currently mentioned in Turkey even at the minimum standards. That is why; our struggle for democracy is remaining and inevitable. It is clear that the Kurdish problem cannot be resolved with war. Our struggle for peace is accordingly remaining and inevitable. We invite the political power to protect the values of 28 February 2015 Dolmabahce Declaration and recognize the people’s will on peace and democracy in Turkey.

We will not allow the human rights values to be liquidated in this country in any ways.

We celebrate everyone’s human rights day with our wish for peace.

Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

Board Members and Staff of Human Rights Association are under Police Detention

November 9, 2017

Öztürk Türkdoğan, President of Human Rights Association(HRA), Ms Sevim Salihoğlu, Treasurer of the HRA, Ms Derya Uysal, Member of the Central Management Board of HRA and Ms Besra Varli, staff of the HRA  were taken under police custody at noon of 9 November 2017 (today) before the Human Rights Monument at Yüksel Avenue in Ankara.

Human Rights Monument have been under blockade with iron barriers since months.

Just a year ago on 9 November 2016, Nuriye Gülmen intitiated a “sitting action”  with a slogan of “I want my job back”  before the Human Rights Monument. She was joined later by Semih Özakça, Acun Karadağ and Veli Saçılık with same slogan.

Nuriye and Semih had later commenced the hunger strike.

Human Rights monument represents  human rights. Iron barriers represent blockade!

As Human Rights Association, our President and board members and our staff demanded the lift of this blockade. This is why we were before the Human Rights Monumet today.

Our second demand was related with the acceptance of public servants’ demand  to return to their job who were unlawfully purged.

As a result;

Human Rights Defenders should be released immediately.

Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça who unfairly and unlawfully dismissed  should return to their job.

Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

The Hearing for the Right Defenders will be Held Today

STATEMENT FOR THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC

The right to defend our rights is a fundamental right. We demand the release of rights defenders and revocation of the investigations and cases filed against them !

24 October 2017

As we explained in detail in the file notes[1] announced to the public on 11 July, 14 August and 8 September 2017, a training workshop was organised in Büyükada (Prinkipo), İstanbul on 2-7 July 2017 on the basis of the decision and information of the civil society organisations under the Human Rights Joint Platform. On the fourth day (5 July 2017) the workshop had been raided by the police upon the instructions issued by the Office of Adalar (Prince Islands) Chief Public Prosecutor, and 10 rights defenders were detained. 8 of the rights defenders were detained and 2 were released on judicial control. About three months later on 4 October 2016, an indictment was issued by the Office of İstanbul Public Prosecutor involving charges of membership to illegal organisation and aiding illegal organisations. This indictment was admitted on 16 October 2017 by the Heavy Penal Court no 35 of İstanbul and 25 October 2017 was set as the date for the first hearing. The indictment prepared by the prosecutor’s office also included among the list of suspects Amnesty International’s President of Board for Turkey Branch Attorney Taner Kılıç who was detained on June 6, 2017 and is still in remand.

The indictment that has been prepared lacks a legal basis.

The training on coping with trauma and digital security has nothing confidential, has been organised in an open and transparent manner and basically aims to enhance the information and wellbeing of rights defenders. It is about a normal issue organised everywhere in the world, yet the lawsuit aims to forcibly criminalise the training meeting as well as its participants.

The rights defenders against whom a lawsuit has been initiated are managers and members of rights organizations recognized in Turkey and in the world. We do not accept the branding of such persons as members and supporters of outlawed armed organizations. We believe that such allegations lack any credibility. The lives of rights defenders and the works and actions they have carried out up until now prove the absurdity of such accusations.

We would like to stress it one more time:

We are entitled to defend our rights as a fundamental right. It is a duty of the governments to facilitate the work of the rights organizations and defenders. In the framework of the norms and standards protected under international and regional human rights conventions and documents, which Turkey is a party of and she has transposed pursuant to constitutional article 90, is also under liability to protect human rights defenders.

Accusing, detaining and arresting people just because we are standing up for our rights constitute a human rights breach. Therefore we demand the human rights defenders be released and the relevant investigations and law suits be cancelled.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 at 10:00 at İstanbul Çağlayan Court House’s 14th Assize Court. 

Kindly submitted to the attention of the public.

Equal Rights Monitoring Association, Rights Initiative, Human Right Association, Human Rights Agenda, Women’s Coalition, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Amnesty International Tukey, Citizens Assembly

[1] Bkz. www.ihop.org.tr

GÖZALTINDAKİ İNSAN HAKLARI SAVUNUCULARI VE KATILDIKLARI FAALİYETE DAİR BİLGİ NOTU

http://www.ihop.org.tr/2017/08/14/insan-haklari-savunucularina-yonelik-keyfi-tutuklamaya-son-verin/)

http://www.ihop.org.tr/2017/10/16/tutuklu-insan-haklari-savunuculari/

 

Call of Action for HRFT Cizre Representative MD.Serdar Küni!

With this Call of Action, HRFT calls all its friends and colleagues to take action for MD. Serdar Küni, HRFT Cizre Center Representative, who was arrested on October 19, 2016, with groundless allegations concerning his professional practices.Confinement of MD. Küni, who has been all through his life guided only by good medical practice, should be immediately ended! 

28.10.2016

Dear friends,

In the recent months, we shared several issues with you and asked your solidarity during these difficult times we are going through. Today, we would like to share another issue regarding MD Serdar Küni, our friend and colleague.

MD. SerdarKüni, HRFT Cizre Center Representative and former President of Şırnak Medical Association, was arrested on October 19, 2016 and sent to the Şırnak Prison, with groundless allegations concerning his professional practices. Confinement of MD. Küni, who has been all through his life guided only by good medical practice, should be immediately ended!

Practicing medicine on the basis of the fundamental values of the profession is a very difficult task in Turkey in the context of the armed conflicts that resumed on Summer 2015; and particularly in Cizre, located in Southeast Turkey, and witnessing inconceivably massive pains in the recent period. Despite immense difficulties, MD. Serdar Küni has been, for many years and in the witness of many, practicing medicine in Cizre, with a strong commitment to the fundamental ethical and scientific references of medicine, whose only raison d’etre is to protect and improve human life. Therefore, the real target of this arrest is national and international law and conventions, universal ethical principles, and human conscience.

The arrest of MD. Serdar Küni, HRFT Cizre Center Representative, is an attempt to repress HRFT, whose mission is to struggle for prevention of torture in our country and in the World, and all efforts for eradicating torture and other severe human rights violations.

We remind that values and implementation of good medical practice cannot be prosecuted. The unlawful practice, MD. Serdar Küni is subjected to, should be IMMEDIATELY revoked!

Until MD. Küni is released; we will continue an effective and democratic struggle, together with all our friends and colleagues. We have no doubt that this unlawful practice will be ended in the shortest time, thanks to the solidarity and struggle of the doctors and health professionals, who adopt the values of good medical practice, and broadly, of all human rights defenders at the national and international scene.

We ask your solidarity in our struggle. We kindly request all of you to take action to urge the authorities to immediately release MD. Serdar Küni, by sending letters and emails to the relevant authorities, publishing statements, and disseminating the present Call in your networks. We would like to remind that any reaction by our friends and colleagues would be invaluable.

We thank you in advance and remain at your disposal should you require any further information.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı                                                                MD Metin Bakkalcı

                Chairperson of HRFT                                                                          Secretary General of HRFT

 

Values and Implementation of Good Medical Practice Cannot Be Prosecuted!

21.10.2016

Confinement of MD. Serdar Küni, former President of Şırnak Medical Association and HRFT Cizre Reference Center Representative, who has been, all through his life, guided only by good medical practice, should be immediately ended!

Practicing medicine on the basis of the fundamental values of the profession is a very difficult task in the context of the armed conflicts that resumed on Summer 2015, before we could cope with the massive pains of the past; and particularly in Cizre, which is witnessing inconceivable agonies in the recent period. MD. Serdar Küni, who has been, despite immense difficulties, decisively practicing medicine in Cizre for years, with a strong commitment to these fundamental values; was arrested on October 19, 2016 and sent to the Şırnak Prison, with groundless allegations concerning his professional practices.

All through his life, MD. Serdar Küni practiced his profession, in the witness of everyone, with a strong commitment to the fundamental ethical and scientific references of medicine, whose only raison d’etre is to protect and improve human life.

Therefore, the real target of this arrest is national and international law and conventions, universal ethical principles, and human conscience.

The arrest of MD. Serdar Küni, HRFT Cizre Reference Center Representative, is an attempt to repress HRFT -whose mission is to struggle for prevention of torture in our country and in the World-, and all efforts for eradicating torture and other severe human rights violations. This unlawful practice, MD. Serdar Küni’nin is subjected to, should be IMMEDIATELY revoked.

It is evident that until this unlawful practice is revoked, we will continue an effective and democratic struggle, together with all persons and institutions concerned.

We have no doubt that this unlawful practice will be ended in the shortest time, thanks to the solidarity and struggle of the doctors and health professionals, who adopt the values of good medical practice, and broadly of all human rights defenders at the national and international scene.

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

Executive Board

Open Letter From Human Rights Organisations!

OPEN LETTER  

to the Bureau of the Turkish Grand National Assembly  

 From the Human Rights Organisations   

13 October 2016

 

Distinguished Speaker,

We write you this letter with reference to the statement of 1 October 2016 made by AK Party Deputy and Chairperson of TGNA Prisons Sub-Committee Mr Mehmet Metiner to Hülya Özmen Karabağlı the correspondent of Duvar Daily, which has not been disclaimed so far, as well as Mr Metiner’s speech delivered and attitude displayed at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee meeting which was also published in Yeni Çağ Daily of October 6, 2016.

In his aforementioned statement published in Duvar Daily Mr Deputy noted that they would not visit the remands who are members of FETÖ and would not launch investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment related to them. He retained the same position at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee meeting, as follows;

Following the interventions of Veli Ağbaba from CHP and Burcu Çelik Özkan from HDP, who gave examples of human rights violations at the prisons, Chairperson of TGNA Prisons Sub-Committee at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee Mr Mehmet Metiner has taken the floor. Metiner strongly reacted to the allegations that FETÖ members who were involved in the coup attempt were subjected to torture and that she was not willing to visit the remands who are FETÖ members, and said; “We will not surrender to such black propaganda of FETÖ terrorists. We will not surrender to these attempts of spin doctoring. I do not believe that FETÖ members are being tortured. There are no applications as such. However I believe that an operation of spin doctoring through the question of “are you being subjected to torture” asked to the terrorists, should not be allowed. I believe that the Parliamentary committee should not become an instrument in this, they have never been subjected to torture. I have nothing to do with the blows and kicks they got during apprehension. If I were there I would have done the same. I would have done much more.”

We consider such remarks unacceptable from several points of view; the first being that such a remark has been made by an MP, and moreover a member of the prison sub-committee of the TGNA. A lawmaker who is a member of the legislative organ and moreover the head of a committee responsible for supervision cannot and should not make such remarks. Torture is a crime against humanity and refusing to conduct inspections amidst claims of torture at state facilities would further encourage officers engaged in torture and maltreatment practices, promote full impunity and commission of crimes as well as amounting to the defending of torture.

Secondly, it is an attempt to conceal the truth by a person (Member of Parliament) having the capacity to act on behalf of the public vis-à-vis claims and the possibility of the infliction of an act — which is absolutely prohibited in supranational human rights instruments and our domestic law in the framework of human rights law– in facilities under state protection and supervision and where people have been deprived of their liberties. The distinguished Member of Parliament is expressing a preconceived opinion without conducting any inquiry and is ruling out the torture phenomenon and possibility outright. He is thus breaching the principles of objectivity and impartiality.

A stance that is democratic and committed to human rights should not deny torture claims or refuse to investigate them, but should inquire and investigate them and declare that necessary action would be taken within the framework of human rights law where a violation has the detected.

We would like to recall that torture has been prohibited under not only Constitutional article 17 but also under article 3 of European Convention of Human Rights, article 5 of International Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights. This prohibition applies not only under ordinary conditions of the regime but also during times of war and other extra-ordinary circumstances [state of emergency]. We want the relevant provisions to be reminded to the distinguished deputies.

Constitutional article 15, article 15 of the ECHR, and article 4 of the UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights foresee that torture and maltreatment are absolutely prohibited also during times of war and in states of emergency and that obligations will not diminish thereof.

Distinguished Speaker,

Turkey is a signatory to not only the above-cited documents but also a party to the UN and CoE conventions for the prevention of torture.

Pursuant to the ECtHR ruling, the State is obligated to prove that torture and maltreatment incidents occurring in places under its monitoring and supervision had not been perpetrated by public servants (in other words, in line with negative obligation, public servants had not inflicted torture); [and that] in fact, the State should take necessary measures to make sure that torture and maltreatment do not take place (in other words, complied with the positive obligation of taking measures).

Also from this standpoint, the remarks of the distinguished deputy are unacceptable.

Distinguished Speaker,

We protest distinguished MP Mehmet Metiner due to the position he has assumed in the face of torture allegations.

No one, regardless of the motive, can be subjected to torture and maltreatment.

Torture is an assault on human dignity and is absolutely prohibited. The State is under the obligation of not inflicting, preventing, investigating, prosecuting and trying torture as well as punishing the perpetrators thereof.

This obligation cannot be suspended, diminished or neglected.

Kind regards.

Helsinki Citizens Assembly (hYd),  Human Rights Association (İHD), Human Rights Research Association (İHAD), Human Rights Agenda Association (İHGD), Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (Mazlumder), Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT)

For information:

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, Chair of the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee

Members of the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee

 

Closure of Özgür Gündem Daily is Unlawful!

August 17, 2016

WE CONDEMN THE CLOSURE OF THE DAILY AND THE RAID OF ITS HEADQUARTER

Ozgur Gundem Daily was shut down on August 16, 2016 by the decision of Istanbul 8th Criminal Court of Peace, on completely arbitrary grounds lacking any lawful basis. Before the disclosure of this unlawful decision to the Daily, Ozgur Gundem’s headquarter located in Istanbul Beyoglu district was raided by the Police, including the special operations unit. The building was searched in a way that resembles depredation, and the journalists are detained. Among the journalists detained, were the correspondent and the cameraman from IMC TV, who were in the building to make news and were on a live broadcast at the moment. Police also raided the houses of Eren Keskin, Human Rights Association Central Executive Board member and an ex-chief editor of the Daily; and Filiz Koçali, a former columnist at Ozgur Gundem.

In the 1990s and after, Ozgur Gundem had been subjected to serious attacks, its headquarter in Istanbul had been bombarded, and tens of its employees, distributors, and columnists had been killed. The Daily was under intense pressure of the current government for some time now. In this process, alongside the managing editors, journalists, and columnists; hundreds of intellectuals, writers, journalists, and academicians who served as the “Editor-in-chief on Duty” for solidarity with the Daily, were investigated and sued. As part of this process, President of the HRFT Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, and journalist-writer Ahment Nesin were arrested and imprisoned for 10 days before they were discharged.

This most recent incident of closure denotes an explicit and intentional violation of freedom of press, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of communication, and the public’s right to information. The closure of Ozgur Gundem and the widespread detentions and arrests of journalists, is a clear sign that the government has turned the state of emergency, the declaration of which was justified by the failed coup attempt, into an opportunity and almost a weapon, and that it tended towards silencing the opposition and the democratic powers in the country.

The claims that during arrests, the journalists were battered, hand-cuffed behind the back, and were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment; are worrisome. Claims of torture have become more intense and extensive since the declaration of the State of Emergency. This situation is completely incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). According to the ECHR Article 15, in time of public emergency, contracting states “may take measures derogating from its obligations under [the] Convention to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation”. Yet, the state of emergency does not alter the obligation to respect and ensure the absolute prohibition of torture under Article 3. The States should respect the absolute prohibition of torture under all conditions, including times of emergency.

We would like to remind to the representatives of the government, who claimed, after the failed coup attempt, to have recognized the significance of freedom of press; that by limiting public’s right to information, by turning the State’s privilege on monopoly of violence into a tool of terror, by practicing torture, briefly by touching the essence of the fundamental rights and freedoms, one cannot prevent the coups nor be a real democrat. Therefore, we repeat what we have expressed several times before:

The State of Emergency should be urgently terminated;

The Government should respect the fundamental rights and freedoms;

Detained journalists should be immediately released, and arrested journalists should be discharged;

The ban on Ozgur Gundem should be lifted!

 

Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

Statement on the “Physician’s Positions Against Human Rights Violations”

August 9, 2016

Plotters of the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016 committed a crime against humanity. Thousands of civilians and army members are arrested within the scope of investigations aiming to reveal the responsibles of the coup attempt.

In this process, the Turkish Medical Association declared its stance against military coups, by stressing that “the coup plotters should be fairly tried within the frame of the Constitution and the laws, and be punished as foreseen in the legislation, and that measures should be taken to avoid any further coup attempts by those who have access to arms and who hold the monopoly of violence on behalf of the society”.

Following the meetings of the National Security Council and the cabinet on July 20, 2016, President Erdogan declared a state of emergency covering the entire Turkey for three months.

Periods of extraordinary rule are recorded as periods of intensified violations of human rights and freedoms. The arrests and interrogation processes that started with the suppress of the coup attempt, the images disclosed to the press, and the reports prepared by the human rights organizations bring claims of torture and ill-treatment forward.

The extension of the maximum period of detention to 30 days, and authorization, by the Decree Having Force of Law No. 668, to limit the right to access to an attorney at law during the first 5 days of detention, signify the suspension of the “measures to protect individuals from torture and ill-treatment”, that are devised according to the international standards, and are compulsory to follow.

It should be recalled that the practices carried into effect by the state of emergency and decrees having force of law, can by no means suspend the right to life. Under all conditions including war, conflict, and state of emergence, “prohibition of torture is absolute and indispensable”. In the international law, the principle of “prohibition of torture” is not limited to not conducting such actions. It also assigns the states the responsibility to take and revise all the measures required in order to inhibit torture; to supervise the arrest-detention-conviction units; to ensure that torture incidents do not take place; to conduct medical and legal investigations of any claims of torture; and to prosecute and punish the responsibles of torture incidents, as well as those assisted.

It is known that testimonies taken under torture have no legal validity. Therefore, the correct procedure foresees the files of the coup plotters to be prepared by collecting evidence of what has taken place in front of all of us, and the plotters to be punished after a fair trial. The testimonies taken under torture might result in impunity, thus, might hinder the establishment of justice.

As the Turkish Medical Association, the Forensic Medicine Specialists Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, we declare that we are unconditionally against torture; and we request the claims concerning torture to be investigated by independent boards, and fair trial procedures to be meticulously applied in accordance with the universal law and ethical standards.

Under these conditions, we feel the urge to inform the public opinion once again of the fundamental professional values and the attitude of the physician in the face of human rights violations. As TMA, FMSA, and HRFT, we present the attached document entitled, “Paper on Physician’s Position Against Human Rights Violations” to the authorities, public opinion, and to our colleagues.

Turkish Medical Association

Forensic Medicine Specialists Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

Also see:

– “In the judicial examination and reporting processes, the core values of medicine cannot be compromised”

http://www.ttb.org.tr/index.php/Haberler/adli-6227.html

-The İstanbul Protocol: www.ttb.org.tr/eweb/istanbul_prot/ist_protokolu.html

-The Istanbul Protocol: http://www.tihv.org.tr/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Istanbul_Protokolu.pdf

26 July 2016

To the Press and Public Opinion

THE DECREE DEVISED WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE EMERGENCY STATE LAW AND IGNORING HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF RULE OF LAW SHOULD BE URGENTLY REVOKED!

 

As the Human Rights Association (HRA) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), two organizations, driven by the motivations of reckoning with the military coups and avoiding coup attempts, we would like to share once again some of our opinions that we have already expressed in the recent days:

  • Those who attempted at a military coup on July 15, 2016, like those who made such attempts before, have committed a crime against humanity. All necessary legal actions should be taken against the plotters, as foreseen by the Constitution and the laws. They should be fairly tried and within the rule of law; and those who have been found guilty should be punished.
  • Currently, our country is living in the times of emergency. Certainly, the regulations that will enable coping with these times should be made urgently; without compromising the obligations under the international law, and without touching the essence of the fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • Despite the commonality of the terminology, it is impossible to cope with the times of EMERGENCY we are living in today, by relying on the STATE OF EMERGENCY LAW enacted on October 27, 1983 during the military coup of 12 September, with the aim of consolidating the junta rule. Military coup attempts cannot be discarded by military coup mentality and laws deriving from it. On the contrary, application of such laws reinforces the military coup mentality.
  • However, the concerned STATE OF EMERGENCY LAW allows the issue of governmental decrees having force of law and immune from judicial control. As such, the legislative power (the Grand National Assembly of Turkey), which has already been severely eroded, will be rendered completely ineffective. Furthermore, the destruction of the democratic principles such as the rule of law, judicial independence, separation of powers, and respect for human rights will be deepened.

Following our above-mentioned concerns, the “Decree having force of Law” with a number. 667 concerning the measures taken within the scope of the State of Emergency, is published in the Official Gazette on July 23, 2016. This decree that is devised ignoring the human rights and the fundamental principles of the rule of law, is clearly incompatible with the Turkish Constitution Article (15) Clause (2); European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article (15); and even with the articles of the Turkish Constitution concerning the decrees during emergency states.

The Turkish Constitution Article (15), Clause (2) clearly states that the right to life should be protected; material and moral integrity cannot be violated in other words torture, ill-treatment and degrading treatment are prohibited; criminal law cannot be applied retrospectively; one is considered innocent unless proven guilty (presumption of innocence); and that no one can be forced to disclose religious beliefs, opinions, and can be charged because of these. These are rights that should be protected under any circumstances, and can by no means be restricted.

Indeed, as stated in the Article (15) of the ECHR (to which Turkey is a party); the right to life regulated in the Convention’s second Article, the prohibition of torture, ill-treatment and degrading treatment regulated in the Article 3; the prohibition of slavery and forced labor regulated in Article 4; and the principle of no punishment without law regulated in the Article 7 can by no means be restricted.

Besides, Turkey is a party to the UN International Covenant to the Civil and Political Rights.  Under any circumstances, the “guarantees to due process” regulated in both conventions cannot be subjected to any measures that will restrict the protection of the unexceptionable rights. Deviation from the fundamental principles of fair trial as they appear in the Constitution and conventions, including the presumption of innocence, is strictly prohibited. (The General Comment no.29 concerning the UN International Covenant to the Civil and Political Rights Article 4: Exceptions concerning the state of emergency, Paragraph 11 (2001))

Briefly, the Turkish Constitution Article (2), Clause (2) and the ECHR Article (15) regulate the fundamental rights and freedoms that should be protected under any circumstances. These rights cannot be violated nor limited even in a state of emergency.

The Decree having force of Law published on July 23, 2016 is comprised of clauses almost none of which can be linked to the subject and duration of the state of emergency declared. These clauses can not be explained on the basis of principle of proportionality.

The Decree having force of Law Article (2) Clause (1) declares the closure of the private health institutions and establishments, private education institutions and establishments, private student dorms and guesthouses, foundations/associations and their commercial enterprises, foundation universities, syndicates, federations and confederations that are identified to be owned by, adhered or related to the Pro-Fettullah Terror Organization (FETO/PDY).

Article (2) Clause (2) of the same decree states that “institutions and establishments that are not mentioned in the annexed list, yet are identified to be owned by, adhered or related to the formations or groups or terror organizations determined to pose a threat to the national security; will be closed down by the minister’s approval upon the proposal of the commission to be formed within the related ministry”.

First, it should be stated that the closure of the institutions and organizations, and the seizure of all their assets directly and without court decision is a violation of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution; of the presumption of innocence mentioned in the Constitution Article (15) Clause (2); the right to association; and finally, of the right to property. As these institutions and establishments are shut down without a court decision, there is the possibility that they obtain these rights back via judicial process in future.

The expression “identified to be owned by, adhered or related to the formations and/or groups and/or terror organizations determined to pose a threat to the national security” appearing in this regulation, points to a subjective evaluation left to the National Security Council, and hence the Government. As such, it provides the ministries with unlimited and nonobjective extra-constitutional authorities.

This enables the Government to exercise the State of Emergency Decree having force of Law to all opposing social institutions and establishments. As long as the state of emergency is maintained, these institutions and establishments will feel the menace of closure like a sword of Damocles hanging over their head, which will restrain them from freely criticizing the Government. This implies a destruction of the political space, hence the democratic life, and a complete suspension of the legal security and guarantee.

The Articles (3) and (4) pave the way for the Supreme Court members, judges, prosecutors, local administration personnel, and the higher education staff to be dismissed from profession without conduct of fair investigation. Furthermore, the prohibition of the concerned persons from civil service is not limited to the period of emergence state and is a lifetime prohibition. As such, these articles suspend all the guarantees regulated in the specific laws, and the Constitution.

Doubtlessly, persons –in the case of actions mentioned in the Articles 3 and 4 of the decree-, and institutions –when they are closed down according to the Article 2- can always claim their rights by judicial process.

The Article (5) of the Decree clearly violates the freedom of travel, by stating that the passports of those have been subjected to administrative acts, criminal investigation and prosecution will be canceled.

The Decree Article (6) Clause (1) Section (a) extends the maximum duration of detention to 30 days, and thus, violates the principle of absolute prohibition of torture, ill-treatment, and degrading treatment, which is guaranteed by the Constitution Article (15) Clause (2), as well as the ECHR Article (15).  It should be recalled that even under the absolute martial law, Article (15) of the related law limited the maximum duration of detention to 15 days; this could be protracted for another 15 days with a judge’s decision. The maximum duration of detention cannot be extended by a decree; as a martial law is not declared in Turkey; and the Article (26) of the State of Emergency Law concerning the detention periods was revoked on 1992. When the fact that maximum period of detention has been reduced on 1997, from 30 days to 10 days for the regions under the state of emergency, it would be more clear why the current situation is worrying.

As human rights organizations we will definitely make applications to launch the appropriate trial and complaint mechanisms (the European Court of Human Rights being in the first place) against the extension of the maximum period of detention to 30 days that brings a serious risk in terms of the violation of the principle of prohibition of torture; and against the regulations that will lead to the suspension of procedural guarantees (particularly access to an attorney at law).

The Decree Article (6), regulating several investigational procedures, limiting the access to an attorney at law, and mentioning a new enforcement regime; foresees the application of these regulations until the completion of the trial process concerning persons against whom legal actions are taken. This strongly suggests that the emergency state would extend behind the duration initially stated. From all aspects this situation is worrying, and implies the violation of the right to fair trial.

Like the provisory Article 15 of the Constitution of September 12; the Article 9 of the concerned decree, brings a complete impunity by stating that no legal, administrative, fiscal and penal responsibility will arise related to the functions fulfilled by the persons taking decisions and implementing actions within the scope of this decree.  This is in contradiction with the regulation stated in the ECHR Article (15) Clause (2), and Article (7). It should be underlined that despite the Article 9 of the Decree, the responsibility of those who play a role in the violation of human rights can by no means be ruled out.

The application of the Decree having force of Law with No. 667 as it is, is unacceptable since it is in contradiction with the Turkish Constitution Article 15, as well as several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. While suspending the rights and freedoms on the one hand, it will also debilitate the fight against serious crimes, such as the coup attempts. Therefore, this Decree having force of Law devised ignoring the values deriving from the human rights and the rule of law, should be urgently revoked.

 

 

Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

To download the statement as word file please click here.

Common Statement By HRFT and IHD About State of Emergency in Turkey

July 21, 2016

To the Press and Public Opinion

 

No democratic links can be established between the TIMES of EMERGENCY we are living in today, and the “STATE of EMERGENCY LAW” dated October 27, 1983 which was enacted by the Bulend Ulusu Government during the military coup of 12 September, with aim at consolidating the junta rule of that period.

Advancing the fundamental rights and freedoms to realise democratization can prevent the military coups, not promulgation of state of emergency. 

Following the meetings of the National Security Council and the cabinet on July 20, 2016, President Erdogan declared a state of emergency covering the entire Turkey, for three months. This entirety clause is the first time for the Turkey’s recent past. The decision is published in the official gazette on July 21, 2016.

In Turkey’s recent past, the partial application of the martial law began on November 1978; became permanent with the military coup of 12 September 1980; and lasted until July 19, 1987. From this date onwards, the practices of the emergency state that concerns several cities in the Eastern and South-eastern Turkey were protracted 46 times to last until November 30, 2002. Briefly, for 24 years the people of Turkey have lived under the martial law/state of emergency that restricted/suspended the fundamental rights and freedoms in the entire country or in a part of it.  This is a quite rare situation in the World.

To a great extent, the practices of state of emergency have become partial during Ecevit government. Ultimately, the state of emergency in the two cities (Diyarbakir and Sirnak) has not been prolonged and hence, terminated on November 30, 2002 during the Justice and Development Party government.

As the Human Rights Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, in the recent days we have several times underlined that;

YES, there has been a coup attempt in our country,

YES, we are, absolutely and without any ‘but’s, against all coups and coup attempts, which mean termination of democratic rule and severe violations of fundamental rights,

YES, the crime committed by the plotters of the latest coup is a crime against humanity,

YES, concerning these plotters, all the necessary legal processes, as defined in the Constitution of Turkey and legal codes should be carried out; they should be tried fairly, and punished as foreseen by laws,

YES, we are living under in the times  of emergency.

Having said that, a conceptual distinction is of vital importance. The “State of Emergency Law” enacted on October 27, 1983 by the Bulend Ulusu Government during the period of 12 September military coup provides the legal basis of the current ‘state of emergency’ (despite certain modifications until 1992). Despite the commonality of the terminology utilized, there are no connections between the ‘extraordinary’ circumstances we are living in today, and the “State of Emergency Law” that enforced the 12 September military coup mentality. The coup attempts and their repercussions cannot be eliminated by laws that reflect or the military coup mentality. On the contrary, such practices consolidate the military coup mentality.

That is because with the implementation of the concerned law;

  • the Government will issue decrees having force of law, and immune from judicial control, and thus, will completely disable the legislative power (the Grand National Assembly of Turkey), which has already been severely eroded;
  • fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of travel, right to education, work, information, communication, and immunity of residence, will be restricted or completely suspended by practices such as declaration of curfew being in the first place; and the authority of the law enforcement forces to use arms will become almost unlimited;
  • the democratic principles such as the rule of law, judicial independence, separation of powers, and respect of human rights, which have been seriously violated by the current Government in the recent period will be further demolished.

For this reason, in a period where the coup attempt is suppressed, massive arrests and detentions take place, and thousands of public servants are dismissed and investigated; we regard the declaration of a state of emergency to cover the entire country and to last for 3 months, as an anti-democratic practice that will suppress all segments of the society, and that will make the authoritarian tendency permanent. This situation suggests that the de facto presidential model will take a legal form with the state of emergency law, and that the parliamentarian system will be further damaged, and rendered completely ineffective.

We would like to also underline that the restrictions of the fundamental rights and freedoms might lead to new tensions and social conflicts.

On the other hand, the incidents of rights violations during the periods of emergency state in Turkey’s recent past have shown us that the guarantees under Article 15, Clause 2 of the Constitution of Turkey is not respected. The periods of administration under state of emergency have already been recorded as the times when violations of rights and freedoms were dramatically increased. Furthermore, with the legislation and practices it brings, and the culture it creates –particularly among the circles of the military and public authorities- the administration under state of emergency adversely affects the transition to so called ordinary times of administration.

It should be beard in mind that under any circumstances, the right to life and the integrity of physical and moral existence are inviolable in other words the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment should be maintained; freedom of religion, liberty of consciousness, and freedom of opinion should be guaranteed; and presumption of innocence should be respected. Criminal law cannot be applied retrospectively; hence, the discussions around the death penalty are unreasonable.

 As we have expressed before, “the chaotic atmosphere, in which Turkey is living today is directly related to the inability to bring viable solutions to democratic problems, and to the violations of rights. The inefficiency of the Government to put into practice the principles of pluralism, transparency, and participation; disregard of the fundamental rights and freedoms and rule of law; adoption of policies based on violence, rather than democratic and peaceful methods, against the Kurdish problem; implementation of anti-democratic laws such as law of impunity for the military members; and conduct of war inside and outside the country; have brought about a deep political and state crisis.”

Therefore, the only way out from the times of emergency we are living in today is to uncompromisingly defend rule of law, democracy, and the respect to human rights.

Turkey can only end the chaos by developing peace politics both inside and outside the country, by re-launching the peace and resolution process, and by enhancing the space for democratic politics. We do not want to see the old state of emergency practices. We would like to stress out that the state of emergency should be terminated in the soonest time.

Instead of insisting to employ the authorities mentioned in the “State of Emergence Law” and of affirming that these will “target the organization and structures that plotted the coup, and carried out the attempt”, the Government should abrogate this law enacted on 1983, directly by the military coup rule, in order to consolidate the military coup mentality. We would like to remind the urgent need for regulations that will enable coping with the current times of emergency, in line with the obligations under the international law.

 

 

Human Rights Association

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey