One more annual human rights report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey is brought to the public attention, although belatedly. This report, (*) dealing with human rights abuses observed in 1996, was prepared by the Documentation Center of the HRFT. We produced this report with the aim of informing and warning the public at home and abroad, as well as authorities, about human rights abuses, and enabling them to reach their own conclusions. For this report, we assessed the news received from our own sources, newspapers, journals and other publications, evaluated HRFT’s daily reports, the information given by the Human Rights Association Head Office and branches, and other human rights activists, as well as official statements and speeches of authorities at every level.
Since we are an independent non-governmental organization defending human rights, we gave priority to the abuses originating from the structure and the characteristics of the regime that were caused by anti-democratic provisions of the Constitution and laws, or by the political power or public officers. Nevertheless, taking into consideration the dimensions and extent of violence in Turkey and its present situation, the acts and attacks carried out by certain armed groups, particularly by the PKK, were also assessed and included in the report. While preparing the report, we were extremely careful about the accuracy of the information and the trustworthiness of the sources, and we tried to present the events objectively. Many reports which were obtained from just a single source, but could not be confirmed or were not reliable or deemed to be exaggerated, were not included in the report. We hope that any individual, organization, authoritative body or any circle that will read our report will assess it without prejudice and be objective in a similar way.
This report evaluates the human rights abuses witnessed in 1996 under several headlines: “Introduction,” “The Kurdish Problem,” “Murders by Unknown Assailants,” “Extra-judicial Executions,” “Capital Punishment,” “Torture,” “Freedom of Thought, Press and Belief” and “Freedom of Organization.” These sections were divided into sub-sections, which include numerous sample cases. However, the examples do not cover all of the developments and abuses observed during the year; but a small portion of them. Therefore, one should take into account that there were many more human rights violations in 1996 than figures and examples show.
HRFT President Yavuz Önen’s article entitled “Governments change, but human rights violations continue” evaluates the human rights situation and present human rights problems, and enumerates the measures that should immediately be taken on this issue. Yavuz Önen touches on the approach of the Foundation towards certain important subjects in Turkey and abroad and provides information about the pressure and obstacles the Foundation faced.
The Documentation Center of the HRFT started its work as of March 1990, when the Foundation began functioning. The Center has been preparing daily human rights reports (except on Sundays and Saturdays) since 2 April 1990. At the Documentation Center, newspapers and journals have been evaluated, press clippings have been classified and filed according to their topics. Additionally, a computer-supported data-bank and archives of documents and video cassettes have been formed. Through documents and information it has, the Documentation Center helps individuals and organizations interested in human rights issues, and supports the human rights struggle in this way.
Up to date, the Documentation Center has prepared various reports along with its daily work, brought these reports to the public attention in Turkey and abroad, and contributed to publicizing the activities of the Foundation. These reports are as follows:
- 1990 Press Report (Turkish-summary in English)
- Report-1990 (Turkish-English)
- Torture Report-1991 (Turkish-English)
- Turkey Human Rights Report-1991 (Turkish-English)
- 100-day Report-1992 (Turkish-English)
- 6-month Report-1992 (Turkish-English)
- Turkey Human Rights Report-1992 (Turkish-English)
- 500-day Report-1993 (Turkish-English)
- Following the Coalition Government-1993 (Turkish-summary in English)
- Turkey Human Rights Report-1993 (Turkish-English)
- File of Torture-12 September 1980/1994 (Turkish-English) Confiscated, prosecuted at the Ankara SSC and acquitted.
- Education in the Emergency State Region 1984/1994 (Turkish-English)
- The DEP File-Deputies are on Trial (English)
- Turkey Human Rights Report-1994 (Turkish-English)
- Education in the Emergency State Region 1984/1995 (Turkish-English)
- File of Torture-12 September 1980/1995 (Turkish-English)
- Turkey Human Rights Report-1995 (Turkish-English)
- Journalists in Prison-March 1998 (Turkish-English)
We are sorry for the delay in the publication of the report. We are thankful to all our friends who took part within the activities of the Documentation Center, who paid efforts for the publications and reports, who worked for days and nights for the continuation of the works, and who supported us in prosperity and in hard times. We present our warm regards to all friends and all human rights advocates who supported us in every stage of our work, who provided us with documents and information, and together with whom we struggled for years. We miss our lovely friends who passed away.