The first week of April 2018 saw the release of the Turkish Human Rights Association’s (IHD) Report on Turkey for 2017. The country has been in the grip of  an ongoing state of emergency since the failed coup in July 2016, a situation that now seems to provide the framework for an ongoing and sustained attack on the rights and liberties most western countries take for granted.


Likewise the Turkish military invasion of Rojava in January 2018 provided another pretext for further repression with protesters and peace activists being arrested for “spreading terrorist propaganda”, i.e. their rejection of the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) military campaign via their use of social media.


The report makes for grim reading.


The Turkish Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği, İHD) was founded in 1986 and has its headquarters in Ankara.


At the recent Press Conference IHD Co-Chair Türkdoğan stated that “for the first time since the lifting of martial law in 1987 the country experienced a state of emergency (OHAL) for an entire year.” He also reminded us that 10 deputies including nine Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) deputies and one Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy are still in prison.


Some of the findings the report outlines:


  • During the time of the State of Emergency, 10 MPs, including the former co-chairs of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are still detained in the prisons.


  • During the State of Emergency (OHAL), 99 councils suffered intervention by the State. 68 council co-presidents were arrested. A total of 780 HDP officials have experienced detention.


  • During OHAL, a total 116,512 public officials had been removed from the public service. Work permits of 22,474 persons who worked in closed private institutions and teachers were canceled.


  • During the OHAL, 4,308 judges and prosecutors have been removed.


  • 48 private health institutions were closed, (2 of them reopened).


  • During the OHAL, the greatest harm was made to freedom of expression and therefore press freedom. 201 press and broadcasting organization, mainly written and visual media, was closed down and only 25 of them were allowed to open.


  • A number of journalists were arrested during the OHAL. Currently, 213 journalists are in prison.


  • During the OHAL, 1,607 associations were closed and 183 were allowed to reopen. 168 foundations were closed and 23 were allowed to reopen. It has been alleged that a majority of these associations and foundations are linked to Fethullah Gülen’s organization and the rest are stated to be linked to other illegal organizations without any concrete evidence. Kurdish cultural institutions and women’s organizations, rights and legal organizations are among the closed associations.


  • According to the official statistics of the Ministry of Justice, in 2016, 4187 people were sued for insulting the President, that is Article 299 of TCK (Turkish Penal Code).


  • Death at the hand of the State Forces: 33 people lost their lives and 62 people were wounded in extrajudicial execution.


  • In 2017, 3 people lost their lives and 1 person was injured in detention places.


  • Due to the armed conflicts, 656 people, including 161 soldiers, police, village guards, 483 militants and 12 civilians, have lost their lives.


  • During this period, a total of 349 people were wounded, including 309 soldiers, police and village guards, 26 armed militants and 14 civilians.


  • A total of 23 people, of whom 8 were children, lost their lives because of the impact of armored vehicles belonging to security forces.


  • According to a reply by Ministry of Justice to CHP Istanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş the number of prisoners committed in prisons in 2016 was 66.


  • 40 prisoners committed suicide since the coup d’etat on July 15, 2016.


  • The violation of the right to life for women is on the rise.


  • 51 suicides, 357 women died in public sphere, 408 women lost their lives and 610 women survived. 1,074 women were forced into prostitution.


  • Worker Health and Work Safety: According to the parliament’s data, at least 2,006 workers lost their lives in 2017 due to worker accidents / killings.


  • 3000 people were tortured


  • According to IHD figures a total of 2,682 people were tortured and subjected to rough treatment, including 1855 in meetings and demonstrations outside the places of detention and in the presence of security forces.


  • A total of 94 provincial and municipal municipalities located in the province have been managed by the municipal councils under the conditions of OHAL / State of Emergency. Currently, 68 municipal co-chairpersons are detained.


  • 143 cases have been filed against IHD Co-Chair Eren Keskin in 2014 and 2015 because of her role as editor in chief of the journal Özgür Gündem.


  • As of 1 November 2017 there were 230,735 prisoners / convicts / convicted persons in prisons. (This number was 178,089 in 2015 and 154,179 in 2014. When the AKP came into power, this number was 59,429).


The Co-chair of the Association Öztürk Türkdoğan spoke at the launch and said that “Turkey’s most important issue remains the unresolved Kurdish question, something that should have its natural place for solution “in the Parliament”…whereas, precisely the Parliament is a hostile place for parties like the HDP which is trying to make democratic politics, but is instead subjected to constant surveillance and arrest operation.”


Öztürk Türkdoğan himself and a number of his IHD colleagues were themselves arrested briefly in November 2017. Mr. Türkdoğan said at that time:

“No explanation was made to us during the detention. I am in the detention vehicle at the moment. We weren’t told anything but we presume that we will first be taken to a hospital for physical examination and then to the Security Directorate by procedure. We don’t know anything. As rights defenders, we are not allowed to exercise the most fundamental rights such as issuing a statement for the press. The rights defenders weren’t allowed to make a statement about human rights. This is the consequence of arbitrary governing. The State of Emergency is practiced in its severest way…”


It looks like 2018 – is not going to be a good year for Human Rights defenders, in this part of the world…



A mural describing human rights in Turkey outside of the public education building in Bayramic Turkey

By Mdozturk [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons


Download Also:

Amnesty International Report 2017/18: The state of the world’s human rights

(Turkey: Pages 367 – 372)


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