Amnesty on Turkey’s Worsening Human Rights Record: 11 Key Issues

BDpHSIbpqpGYciy-800x450-noPadAt midnight tonight, Amnesty International issued its Annual Report, The State of the World’s Human Rights.  There is grim reading throughout.  This was a tough year for human rights worldwide.

Below I’ll try to outline the main issues that Amnesty has raised regarding the declining human rights conditions Turkey, where, according to Amnesty, “authorities have become more authoritarian in dealing with critics,” undermining the independence of the judiciary, introducing new restrictions on internet freedoms, and “[handing] unprecedented powers to the country’s intelligence agency.”

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Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Gezi Park, Impunity, Internet Freedom, Press Freedom, Taksim, Teargas, Turkey, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Amnesty: “Domestic Security Bill” Threatens Human Rights

© Serra Akcan / NarPhotos  Used by permission

© Serra Akcan / NarPhotos Used by permission

Amnesty International today condemned a controversial “domestic security bill” currently before the Turkish Parliament.  Issuing an urgent action to its worldwide membership, Amnesty stated that the legal changes  “threaten human rights, including the prospect of increased arbitrary detention, excessive use of firearms by police and politically motivated criminal investigations if passed into law.”  Other human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have raised similar concerns.

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Amnesty Issues Urgent Action in Case of Detained Protestor (Updated Feb. 17, 18)

Amnesty International has initiated an urgent action in the case of Onur Kılıç, who was detained on 13 February for “insulting the President” during a protest.  He could face up to four years in prison under these charges.

Onur Kılıç

Onur Kılıç

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Turkish Court Ignores ECHR ruling, sentences conscientious objector

Mehmet Tarhan

Mehmet Tarhan

Earlier this week, a military court in Sivas convicted conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan for “failing to obey orders,” sentencing him to fifteen months in prison and a fine of 9000 Lira.  The conviction is particularly shocking because the ECHR has issued a series of rulings against Turkey in conscientious objection cases, including one in 2012 brought by Mehmet Tarhan himself. Continue reading

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Another casualty in Turkey’s war on journalists

The news today that Dutch journalist, Frederike Geerdink, is being prosecuted under anti-terror statutes is, sadly, unsurprising.  The prosecution of journalists in Turkey, is after all, hardly a rare occurrence; seldom does a week go by when a journalist in Turkey is not subject to prosecutionBut as I noted in an earlier blog on the case, the targeting of a foreigner suggests that the Turkish government is “increasingly unhindered by Western criticism.”  External checks on Turkey’s internal repression seem less and less effective.

At the heart of these prosecutions are an increasingly politicized judiciary and a series of laws which make it easy to target voices perceived as critical to the state.

Fréderike Geerdink

Fréderike Geerdink

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The Ali Ismail Korkmaz Trial

page_ali-ismail-korkmaz-davasinda-4-tutuklama-istemi_174204089Ali Ismail Korkmaz was among those killed by police violence during the Gezi protests in June, 2013. He was 19.

Yesterday, there was a modicum of justice in the case when a Turkish court found six guilty in his death.

Korkmaz was savagely beaten on June 2, 2013 during the Gezi Protests. In a statement to authorities before he died, Korkmaz he described the attack:

Five or six people came up to me, they beat me with clubs on my head, back, shoulder and legs. I fell to the ground….Yesterday I didn’t have difficulty in speaking, but today I can’t remember. One of my teeth is loose because of the incident. My head hurts, I have difficulty speaking. I don’t know who beat me or why. They were wearing civilian clothes. I want to make a complaint

Korkmaz was admitted to a hospital after making his statement, but soon fell into a coma. He died on July 10, 2013. Continue reading

Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, Gezi Park, Impunity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Hrant Dink: Still mourned; still awaiting justice

B7tHrfUCEAIWcDPIt has been eight years now since Hrant Dink was shot down on a cold Istanbul street. He is still mourned.  He still awaits justice.

Dink, an ebullient public intellectual and journalist, was a key figure in Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community and an important activist in Turkey’s long struggle for a more liberal, tolerant society.  For this, he was rewarded with state harassment, a public vilification campaign, and, finally, an assassin’s bullet.

Then, as now, Turkish journalists were subject to threats, smear campaigns and sporadic state prosecution aimed at keeping discourse within set boundaries.  Then, as now, journalists’ requests for police protection are blithely ignored.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Armenian, Excessive Force, Freedom of Expression, Hrant Dink, Impunity | Tagged , , , ,

Amnesty puts the “international” into its protest against teargas shipments to Turkey

Yesterday, Amnesty staged demonstrations in Seoul, South Korea and at the South Korean Embassy in Ankara, urging the South Korean government to suspend a proposed shipment of 1.9 million teargas canisters and gas grenades this year.


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As another child dies in Eastern Turkey: “Silence equals Death”

Today, I won’t be writing about Turkey’s horrid response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and their aftermath today.  Enough ink has been spilled about the crocodile tears spilt by Prime Minister Davutoglu in Paris as he stood in defense of freedom of expression, while busily engaged in suppressing it at home.  Nor will I spend time on the ridiculous conspiracy theories spouted by the semi-official Anatolian Agency, the raid last night on a newspaper issuing publishing experts from the latest edition of the Charlie Hebdo, or the court order to ban internet websites publishing images from the French satirical magazine.  These events, all important, and all worthy of comment, are getting lots of coverage in the international press.

The death of another child in Cizre today, again reportedly from a policeman’s bullet, however, has made barely a ripple outside of the Kurdish press.  News sources report that Nihat Kazanhan, either twelve or thirteen years of age, was killed by a bullet to the head.  There is no suggestion that he was engaged in violence, or even participating in a protest.

A week ago, I wrote about the killing of 14 year old Umit Kurt.  Since then, a secrecy order was placed on the investigation and barely a ripple has been felt in Turkish media: the swift, transparent, and independent investigation that the case demanded seems unlikely.  Without wider public outrage, the culture of impunity stands unchallenged.  I am reminded of the old slogan of the AIDS activists: “Silence equals death.”

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

Posted in Charlie Hebdo, Cumhuriyet, Davutoglu, Freedom of Expression, Internet Freedom, Kurds, Nihat Kazanhan, Press Freedom, Umit Kurt | Tagged , ,

Self censorship is not an option


Reposting from Frederike Geerdink’s blog.

Originally posted on Kurdish Matters:

Türkçe burada okuyabilirsiniz!

A picture I tweeted of a group of Kurdish youths at the Kobani border crossing, holding PKK and Öcalan flags. The front page of my Facebook account. A photo I took of Salih Muslim when I met him last month at a conference in Brussels, where we both spoke. Parts of columns I wrote for Any fifteen-year-old could have compiled the file that the anti-terrorism squad made about me in half an hour: just print out some random stuff I wrote, tweeted and put on FB, staple it together, ready.

temIt was an overwhelming experience to find an anti-terrorism team (TEM) of 8 or 9 people banging on my door, searching my house and detaining me for several hours. I was totally flabbergasted and later very fucked up and angry. The house search and detention are an obvious attack on press freedom, and can’t be condemned…

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