For those working on human rights in Turkey, the last few years have been hard ones, marked by violence, mass arrests, and a steady tightening of restrictions on freedom of expression and association. Successes have been few and hard won.
All that said, it seems clear that 2013 is a year of historic opportunities. The Turkish government has initiated direct negotiations with PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan. Moreover, stung by international criticism from groups like Amnesty and a string of court rulings against it by the European Court of Human Rights, the Turkish government has promised sweeping reforms of its judicial system.
Now is the time to act. In the coming months, Amnesty will be working hard to hold Turkey to account for human rights violations and to ensure that judicial reforms will bring Turkish law in line with international human rights standards.
But we need your help. Since launching in December of last year, this site has had thousands of visitors. Clearly, many are interested in human rights issues in Turkey.
But we need to convert interest to action. As the Turkish saying goes, “daha çok işimiz var,” there is a lot of work for us yet to do.
There is a link on this page that says “Join us!” Friends have asked what this means. Effectively, the Turkey Regional Action Network is our way of ensuring that we can mobilize activists to work on Turkish human rights issues, whether they be urgent actions to help individuals at risk or broader campaigns to push reform. We are not asking for huge investments of time…. maybe an hour or two a month. But without volunteers willing to take action, we simply can’t be effective.
Amnesty’s strength is in its ability to mobilize its millions of members to work for change. We need your help.
Join us in working for change in Turkey. And ask your family, friends, and acquaintances to join too. If you are a student or faculty member, consider asking your campus Amnesty chapter to work on Turkey issues as they develop. Help us take action and spread the word.
How to join
If you are located in the United States, you can contact Amnesty International – USA, TURKRAN Coordinator, Natsumi Ajiki, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live outside of the United States, we will be happy to help you find the appropriate contact person in your own country.
I’ve worked on human rights issues in Turkey for well over a decade now. I truly believe that this year has the potential to be a historic turning point for a country that I have known and loved my entire adult life. But it is up to us to seize this moment and help make Turkey a better place for all of its citizens.
Please join us in that work.
St. Lawrence University