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.
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 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