waste
BlogEnvironmental Rights

Europe’s Waste Export Dilemma: Environmental Burdens and Global Implications

 

The surge in waste export from Europe to Turkey, poses serious environmental and ethical dilemmas, necessitating robust international environmental policies. The issue of waste exportation, mainly from European nations to countries like Turkey, presents a pressing environmental and ethical challenge. With China’s decision in 2018 to ban the import of plastic waste, Turkey has become a significant destination for European waste. This shift underscores the global dynamics of waste management as nations grapple with waste surpluses and the complexities of international waste disposal practices.

Historically, China was the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials until its ban, which redirected much of Europe’s waste to other countries, including Turkey and Malaysia. This policy change addressed domestic pollution issues and encouraged China’s waste recycling industries. The ban has had ripple effects across the globe, compelling other nations to rethink their waste management strategies and develop more sustainable practices[1].

In recent years, incidents such as the illegal export of 220 tonnes of waste from the UK to Turkey, which included banned materials like soiled nappies, have highlighted systemic issues in waste management and compliance with international laws[2]. This particular case from 2019 resulted in fines and mandated improvements in waste sorting at UK facilities. However, these actions underscore a broader problem of inadequate oversight and enforcement of waste export regulations. A 2020 Greenpeace report revealed that much of the UK’s plastic waste exported to Turkey was either dumped or burned illegally, posing severe health hazards and environmental pollution [2]. The UK exported significant plastic waste to Turkey in 2023, demonstrating the ongoing dependency on foreign waste management facilities [3].

According to a report in Envirotech Magazine, there has been a significant increase in the amount of UK plastic waste exported for recycling, with over 600,000 tonnes shipped in 2023 alone. More than 25% of this waste was sent to Turkey, highlighting a growing reliance on foreign nations, including non-OECD countries, to manage the UK’s plastic waste. The export of waste has surged by over 500% in the last three years, raising concerns about the environmental impact and the effectiveness of recycling systems in recipient countries [3].

The EU has taken steps to address these challenges through revised waste export rules under the European Green Deal, demonstrating a commitment to reduce waste generation and prevent the shipment of plastic waste to non-OECD countries. Despite these regulations, Turkey, as an OECD country, remains a significant destination for EU waste. This situation presents an opportunity for significant change, raising concerns regarding Turkey’s recycling capacities and the environmental health impacts on its local communities.

Reports from various organisations have illuminated the dire consequences of the current practices. In Turkey, poorly managed waste sites, where much of Europe’s plastic waste ends up, have become environmental hazards. These sites often lack proper controls, leading to widespread pollution and severe health risks for local populations. Activists have used the term “waste colonialism” to describe this dynamic, where developed nations exploit less wealthy countries as dumping grounds for their waste [4]

The magnitude of waste exports to Turkey is significant: in 2021, Turkey imported 14.7 million tonnes of solid waste from EU countries, a threefold increase since 2004, with plastics making up a considerable portion[5]. This statistic highlights Turkey’s role as Europe’s primary waste hub and underscores the urgent need for improved waste management and regulatory practices within Turkey to handle such volumes effectively [6] [7].

This situation necessitates a critical re-evaluation of international waste management policies. Countries involved in waste exports must enforce stricter regulations and improve transparency. Additionally, enhancing recycling technologies and capacities within exporting countries can reduce the need to ship waste abroad, thus mitigating environmental and ethical issues.

The environmental repercussions of waste export are profound, disrupting ecosystems and contravening ethical waste management principles. Strengthening international cooperation and establishing stringent environmental safeguards are essential to ensuring sustainability and justice in waste management.

BY ZEYNEP VEISOGLU

Sources:

[1]          https://politeknik.org.tr/turkiye-nasil-avrupanin-cop-merkezi-oldu/

[2]          https://certified-sustainable.co.uk/why-is-the-uks-plastic-waste-being-dumped-in-turkey/

[3]          https://envirotecmagazine.com/2024/01/24/growth-in-plastic-packaging-recycling-being-shipped-abroad-including-non-oecd-countries/

[4]          https://www.gov.uk/government/news/soiled-nappies-among-banned-waste-exported-to-turkey

[5]          https://tr.euronews.com/2022/05/25/ab-ulkelerinin-turkiye-ye-gonderdigi-cop-uc-kat-artarak-14-7-milyon-tona-ulast

[6]          https://www.politico.eu/article/the-turkey-shaped-hole-in-the-eus-new-waste-export-regime/

[7]          https://www.equaltimes.org/turkey-europe-s-rubbish-dump

 

protest
Articles & StatementsBlog

Investing in Youth: Why Civic Engagement Matters?

The decline in youth participation in politics points to a potential crisis for democracy. But can this crisis be avoided? Over the past two decades, attention has been focused on what many think is a crisis in youth civic and political engagement. This concern has been prompted by research evidence suggesting that younger voters participate less in national elections than older citizens. Additionally, there is the danger of declining voting rates among the young in one or another country over the years. Such developments are often taken as an early warning that the future health of democracy could be at risk. The concern is based on the proposition that political habits formed in youth condition lifelong patterns of political involvement; consequently, today’s disengaged youth would become tomorrow’s disengaged adults. Political and civic engagement manifest in varied forms other than electoral participation. Traditional modes of engagement include voting, working for political parties during elections, and urging others to vote.

On the other hand, there are non-traditional, dynamic modes of civic engagement: participating in demonstrations, protests, and marches; signing petitions, and contributing to political discussions using blogs and social media. In addition, civic actions such as community service, problem-solving programs, and fundraising for social causes provide another avenue of participation, which, though not political, is critical for community wellness and engagement. Diverse avenues provide young people various ways of contributing civically and politically as part of a broad spectrum of participation beyond the ballot box.

On the other hand, young people across various political systems often need more opportunities to actively engage and make an impact within the established political order. Not to mention possessing economic capital, a significant portion of young people worry about getting a job, while another significant portion is concerned about keeping their job. While grappling with these concerns, it isn’t easy to exist or turn towards mainstream politics. Even if they try to enter politics, the institutions and individuals dominant in mainstream politics need to “grant” young people space there so that they can exist in politics. We cannot enter mainstream politics and feel crushed under our country’s economic and political problems that affect our lives. Change is a mandatory way out for everyone, and I want to be one of the subjects of this change. This is where new methods and pathways begin to develop. These methods may emerge as reflections of difficulties, not requiring very robust and detailed planning. Through various youth formations and initiatives, young people practice organizing, advocacy, and demanding. These are individually very valuable internally, but at some point, we need to come together to be able to exert pressure. Coming together does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything. Just uniting on certain basic rights and freedoms is enough to create pressure. Building unity based on common basic desires is possible, and more than possible, it is necessary. The political value of youth as a voting potential has been “discovered.” Still, the real question is whether we should use this potential just for a slightly better status quo or ensure that changes break the power monopoly established political groups hold. What needs to happen is to fight for the necessary adjustments in the representation mechanism when change occurs. This will be a valuable gain for young people and all groups experiencing representation issues. We need to work to use the various practices we experience today to create pressure and force the system to change.

Also, the role of education in shaping young people’s civic engagement must be balanced. Schools that foster an environment where students can freely discuss ethical, social, civic, and political issues help cultivate a generation that is not only well-informed but also deeply engaged. Encouraging discussions around controversial topics and supporting students to express and listen to diverse opinions enriches their political interest, trust, and knowledge. Such educational practices increase the likelihood that students will participate in future elections.

Implementing democratic principles in schools, such as through student councils and representation in decision-making bodies, reinforces these lessons practically. This hands-on approach to democracy at a young age can significantly bolster student engagement.

Adopting a competence-based curriculum that emphasizes essential civic and political engagement skills is crucial in preparing students to be effective change-makers in society. Schools should concentrate on cultivating a deep understanding of politics, coupled with analytical and critical thinking skills, civic responsibility, and effective communication. These competencies are foundational for nurturing students into informed and autonomous participants in democracy.

Integrating innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning, project-based learning, and service-learning can significantly enhance the acquisition of these vital competencies. These pedagogical strategies engage students actively and foster a practical understanding and application of their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. By embedding these competencies within the curriculum, educational institutions can empower students to actively engage in and positively impact their communities and the broader political landscape.

These competencies are crucial for local or national issues and equally vital for addressing global challenges like climate change, pollution, poverty, and human rights. In today’s interconnected world, fostering global-mindedness or a concern for humanity and the planet is essential. This global perspective is increasingly evident in young people’s civic actions, demonstrating their commitment to local communities and global well-being.

Contemporary research shows that young people with high levels of global-mindedness are more engaged in cultural exchanges, appreciate diversity, support global human rights, and participate in environmental conservation. Educational institutions are crucial in nurturing these traits by integrating global issues into their curricula, which helps students understand global challenges and the interdependence of communities.

In addition to traditional foreign language classes, schools should offer intercultural learning opportunities through student exchange programs, international video conferences, and collaborative online international learning projects. These experiences help students understand and respect cultural differences.

Schools must also encourage students to apply their global competencies in real-world contexts, such as service learning projects, internships with international organizations, or community projects with a global dimension. This helps students turn their academic knowledge into action and reinforces their roles as active global citizens.

In conclusion, the dynamic landscape of youth engagement presents many reasons for optimism. By effectively utilizing national education systems, we can bolster young people’s preparedness for active involvement in their local communities and on the global stage. This strategic enhancement of educational frameworks can nurture well-rounded global citizens ready to contribute positively to society.

BY BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS

ilic-cyanide-erzincan-turkiye-accident
Executive Committee

Negligence at the mine in Turkiye: 9 killed and incalculable environmental damage

 

On the afternoon of February 13, 2024, a devastating landslide occurred in the gold mining area of Ilic district, Erzincan.. Turkiye. Approximately 10 million cubic meters of soil, treated with cyanide and sulfuric acid for gold extraction, catastrophically slid towards the Euphrates River [1]. This river is not just a crucial waterway for the Middle East, supporting agriculture, and livestock, and providing drinking water to Syria and Iraq, but also flows into the Persian Gulf [2].

The landslide’s direction toward the Euphrates River raised immediate alarms about environmental and public health impacts. Mehmet Torun, the former president of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, conveyed his concerns to journalists, expressing doubts about the absence of any leakage into the river and hinting at the potential for a “terrible environmental disaster.” Despite these fears, Mehmet Ozhaseki, the Minister of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate, claimed that daily water samples showed no evidence of toxic waste contamination [1].

Cyanide has been used in the mining industry for over a century. Despite, it has been used for a long time cyanide is toxic for not only humans but also many other organisms. Especially, fish and aquatic invertebrates are particularly sensitive to cyanide exposure. A small leakage in the water or the soil can cause catastrophic effects on the ecosystem. The immediate result of a possible leakage in the Euphrates River can be measured by the accident in Romania, in 2000. Unleashed 100,000 cubic meters of toxic waste into rivers, severely impacting Hungary and Serbia. This disaster, caused by extreme weather, led to a widespread loss of drinking water for 2.5 million people and the death of vast numbers of fish.

Long-term consequences for the leakage can only be estimated at this moment. Still, persistent environmental degradation, reduced biodiversity, and compromised water and soil quality, affecting ecosystems and human health for years are some general estimations [3].

Meanwhile, the human toll of the disaster became painfully apparent. Nine mine workers were reported trapped beneath the avalanche of soil and debris. An extensive search and rescue operation involving 800 personnel was quickly launched [4]. However, the threat of further landslides temporarily halted these efforts, with a team of 10 scientists dedicated to stabilizing the land to ensure the safety of the rescue teams [1].

In another interview, Mehmet Torun explained that a gold mine located on an active fault line in Erzincan and 300 meters away from the Euphrates River is very dangerous. He added that two years ago, after it was determined that a pipe carrying cyanide-containing solution burst in the mining complex, causing the solution to spread to the environment, the company was fined 16 million 441 thousand Turkish Lira however, following the penalty, the company immediately increased its capacity twofold [1,6].

The families of the trapped workers, along with the Independent Mineworkers’ Union, demanded justice and accountability. The Union labelled the accidents, including this one, as ‘murders,’ noting that 144 workers lost their lives in similar incidents in February alone [5].

On March 5, a significant development emerged as two engineers from the mining company were arrested, bringing the total to eight individuals detained in connection with the disaster. Yet, there remained no news of the trapped workers [5].

This tragedy highlights the urgent need for stringent safety regulations and environmental protections in mining operations. The potential contamination of the Euphrates River not only poses an immediate threat to public health but also signals broader environmental risks associated with mining. It underscores the importance of sustainable practices and the urgent need for policy reforms to prevent future disasters.

As we reflect on the Erzincan mine disaster, we must consider its implications for mining safety, environmental protection, and the health of river ecosystems upon which millions depend. This catastrophe serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of human activities and the environment, emphasizing the need for collective action and accountability.
In the wake of this disaster, it is critical to advocate for stronger regulations, improved safety standards, and greater environmental stewardship.

This moment calls for all stakeholders, from policymakers to environmental organizations, to unite to prevent such tragedies in the future. We owe it to the victims, their families, and our planet to ensure a safer, more sustainable future for mining and industrial practices worldwide.

BY ZEYNEP VEISOGLU

References:

[1] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/articles/ckveyyg5l25o

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-68292469

[3] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/envi/dv/envi20130925_info-cyanide_/envi20130925_info-cyanide_en.pdf

[4] https://www.euronews.com/video/2024/02/14/nine-workers-at-a-gold-mine-missing-in-turkey-after-a-landslide

[5] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/articles/c2q76y2g55po

[6] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-61935902

fight-racism-fullbleed
Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

Reflecting on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established by the United Nations in 1966 to combat racial.. discrimination worldwide. It commemorates the tragic events of March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa, where police killed 69 peaceful protesters during a demonstration against the apartheid pass laws, which enforced severe racial segregation and discrimination. This day serves as a reminder of the continuous struggle against racism. It promotes activities and actions to raise awareness and find solutions for those most affected by racial discrimination. Despite the abolition of apartheid in 1991 and similar racist legislation in other countries, the fight against racial prejudice is far from over.

Racial discrimination remains a prevalent issue, as evidenced by statistics from the UK, where racially motivated hate crimes are the most reported, with racially aggravated offenses increasing by 19% to 109,843 incidents in 2021/22. This stark reality underscores the vital importance of this day in advocating for and raising awareness about the ongoing efforts needed to educate future generations and eradicate racism. The belief that some people are inherently superior or inferior due to skin color is a harmful notion that we must actively work against to ensure everyone has the freedom and dignity they deserve.

After establishing the definitional framework of hate crimes and the specific strands monitored in England and Wales, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into these incidents’ nuanced statistical tapestry and real-world ramifications. The following section provides a comprehensive dissection of hate crime data, casting light on the demographic profiles of victims, the typologies of hate crimes most frequently documented, and the profound emotional and psychological repercussions these transgressions inflict upon individuals.

This transition from a generalized overview to a granular analysis offers a more lucid comprehension of the prevailing terrain of hate crimes in the United Kingdom. It illuminates the diversity of victims and occurrences and the formidable obstacles encountered in confronting and mitigating these profoundly impactful crimes.

Within this crucible of analysis, we witness the complexities of addressing hate crimes. These complexities extend beyond legislative frameworks and encompass the arduous task of catalysing attitudinal shifts and fostering community empathy.

The definition of hate crime in England & Wales was agreed in 2007 by the Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service, and other agencies.

Hate crime in England and Wales is defined as ‘any criminal offense which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic:

There are five centrally monitored strands of hate crime:

  • race or ethnicity.
  • religion or beliefs.
  • sexual orientation.
  • disability
  • transgender identity.

The recent ‘Hate Crime Summary’ report sheds light on the concerning prevalence of hate crimes in the UK, with racial bias being the primary motivating factor, accounting for 45% of reported incidents. Disability-related hate crimes followed closely, comprising 15% of the total cases, underscoring the multifaceted nature of this issue. Notably, the report documents a staggering 1,426% increase in gender identity-motivated incidents, soaring from 18 to 276 cases. Furthermore, there has been a significant 462% increase in reports related to sexual orientation, highlighting the evolving landscape of hate crimes in the country.

The interaction with authorities reflects the urgency and the spectrum of needs among the victims; 60% of the contacts were to report incidents or update ongoing cases. In parallel, 23% sought listening support, advice, or referrals, indicating the critical role of supportive services in the aftermath of hate crimes.

According to the report, racial motivations persist as the predominant driver of hate crimes, with incidents related to disability following as a significant concern. The pronounced rise in gender-motivated incidents by 322% signals an urgent call for attention to this growing issue.

Analysing the types of hate crimes reported reveals verbal abuse at the forefront with 287 incidents, closely followed by threatening behavior in 238 incidents. Harassment, offensive language, and anti-social behavior were also significantly reported, with 209, 132, and 98 cases, respectively. These statistics not only depict the severity of hate crimes in the UK but also emphasize the need for robust response mechanisms to support the victims and address the root causes.

In efforts to gather comprehensive data on instances of hate incidents, the report strives to include a wide range of demographic details such as age, gender, and ethnicity of those affected. This information aids in the nuanced understanding and addressing of hate incidents. However, sometimes, individuals may be hesitant to disclose such personal information, or when a report is made on someone else’s behalf, the informant may lack access to these details. Additionally, there are circumstances where it becomes impractical or insensitive to pursue these questions further, such as when a person is too distressed to communicate effectively or the conversation ends prematurely.

Among individuals who reported experiencing a hate incident and were willing to share personal information, 2% identified as transgender, with the majority identifying as female (61%) and male (36%). Our team endeavors to gather as much demographic information (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity) about those affected by hate incidents. However, there are instances where individuals may choose not to disclose such information, or the information might be unavailable if the report is made on someone else’s behalf. In situations where it is either impossible or appropriate to inquire for more details (e.g., the person is too upset or the conversation ends abruptly), no data can be recorded.

Regarding disability, 54% of individuals who disclosed information reported being neurodiverse, with autism accounting for 17% of this group. There was a significant increase in individuals reporting physical/mobility disabilities, rising by 176% (from 13 to 40 individuals).

Concerning ethnicity, 28% of the individuals who disclosed their background described themselves as coming from a white background, with 17% specifying White British. Additionally, 27% identified as having a Black background, 32% as Asian, and 5% as Mixed. Notably, there was a significant rise in reports from individuals identifying with an “Other Black Background,” increasing from 7% to 18%.

Age-wise, the bulk of individuals reporting hate incidents and willing to share their age fell within the 25 to 64 age range (74%), with those between 35 to 54 years old being the most likely to report such incidents (39%).

From a religious perspective, 38% of those disclosing information identified as Christian, and 17% as Muslim. Specifically, for faith or religious hate incidents, a majority identified with Islam (71%) or Christianity (9%).

Concerning living situations, over 75% of those experiencing a hate incident and willing to disclose this information were in some form of rented accommodation, with 36% in local authority housing, 20% in housing association properties, and 17% renting from a private landlord.

In the 2022/23 period, law enforcement agencies documented 145,214 incidents where hate crimes, as identified by central monitoring criteria, were considered a motivating factor. This marks a 5% reduction compared to the statistics from 2021/22. The historical rise in the documentation of hate crimes has been partially linked to improvements in recording practices and an enhanced awareness regarding the importance of reporting such offenses.

Since April 2015, notable increases in hate crimes, particularly those of a racial or religious nature, have been observed during significant events such as the EU referendum, the terrorist attacks in 2017, and the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Although similar upsurges were seen in the summers before and after these events, the patterns of increase were consistent across both categories of offenses. When looking at data by Police Force Area for 2022/23, the highest incidence rate of hate crimes, considering all types of offenses recorded by the police, was in the West Yorkshire Police Force area, with 441 incidents per 100,000 people. Conversely, Dorset reported the lowest rate, with 103 incidents per 100,000 population.

Individuals who fall victim to hate crimes are significantly more likely to endure emotional and psychological distress than those affected by crimes in general. Specifically, 42% of hate crime victims reported feelings of vulnerability or a loss of confidence, a stark contrast to the 19% among general crime victims. Additionally, nearly 29% of those targeted by hate crimes struggled with sleep disturbances, compared to 13% for all crime victims. Anxiety or panic attacks were reported by 34% of hate crime victims, a figure that more than doubles the 14% reported by victims of other crimes. Moreover, 18% of those subjected to hate crimes faced depression afterward, doubling the rate of 9% seen in victims of all types of crime.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we reflect on the progress and challenges in our fight against racism. While societies have become more aware and legal frameworks have been established, individuals, communities, and groups continue to suffer from injustices and stigma perpetuated by racist ideologies and practices.

The data on hate crimes in England and Wales serve as a reminder that racism is still deeply entrenched, manifesting in violence, harassment, and marginalization. This day is a call to redouble our efforts, challenge and dismantle prejudices that fuel hate, and amplify the voices of the oppressed and marginalized.

Everyone’s encounter with racism is unique, shaped by their circumstances and intersecting identities.

On this day, we must reaffirm our commitment to creating a welcoming and diverse society where individuals of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds can live together harmoniously, free from fear of abuse or harm.

By BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS

we-marched- all-victimised- women-day
CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We marched for all victimised women

At the Women’s Day march in London, thousands of people, including HRS volunteers in purple raincoats and masks, demanded justice. The London march for International Women’s Day took place on Saturday 9 March this year. Thousands of women took part in the march, which started on Oxford Street and ended in Trafalgar Square. Organised by Million Women Rise, the event is supported by all associations or foundations working in the field of women’s rights in the UK.

As in the previous 3 years, Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) Women’s Rights Committee members were also present at the march, which is known as the ‘world’s biggest women’s rights’ event. HRS Women’s Committee participated in the march with an interesting concept this year. About 40 HRS volunteer women wore purple raincoats and white masks on their faces. On the masks were written the names of women who were arrested in Turkey despite being sick, pregnant or having babies.

HRS volunteers also carried placards expressing the problems of all women who have been subjected to injustice or persecution. For example, there were banners written in Kurdish to draw attention to the injustice suffered by Kurdish women in Turkey, including one with the name of former MP Huda Kaya, who is currently in detention. There were also banners drawing attention to the current ‘genocide’ in Gaza, the war in Ukraine and the persecution of Uyghur people.

Throughout the march, women drew attention to the fact that more than 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza and frequently chanted slogans calling for an immediate ceasefire. The women also emphasised the need for governments to take more measures to end male violence.

HRS Women’s Committee Chair Ceyda Betul Kemanci made the following statement about the event: “As HRS, we participate in this important march with a different concept every year. Last year, we marched with a platform with a woman and child mannequin that we placed in a boat to explain the problems experienced by those who had to flee from Meric River due to unlawful behaviour in Turkey. This year we wore purple raincoats to represent women’s rights. There are also many women who are unjustly and unlawfully imprisoned in Turkey. In order to make their voices heard, we wore masks with the names of women, especially those who are sick, pregnant or with babies. We demanded an immediate end to these atrocities. We demanded that the ECtHR’s Yalcinkaya judgement be implemented without further delay. We demanded an end to the systematic torture and that those responsible be punished.

At the rally organised in Trafalgar Square where the march ended, speeches were made in line with the general concept of the march. Those who took the floor raised the voices of all girls and women who had been subjected to violence and expressed that they could put an end to male violence together. The demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was also voiced here.

iwd
Articles & StatementsCommitteeWomen’s Rights

Statement on International Women’s Day

We demand an end to the killing of women, especially in Gaza, and to violence against women around the world. The main theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, which emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all areas of society. This also emphasises the vital role of inclusion in achieving gender equality. A key pillar of the theme is the promotion of diversity in leadership and decision-making positions. Women, especially those belonging to underrepresented groups, continue to face barriers when seeking leadership or representation roles. As we mark International Women’s Day 2024, we reaffirm our commitment to building a world where all women are empowered, valued and included in decision-making. By working together to break down barriers and promote diversity, we can build a more equitable and inclusive society for future generations.

However, we regret to remind you that today there is another problem that is much more important than women’s participation in social life: Not being able to keep them alive. Sadly, on 7 October last year, many innocent women were killed in a terrorist attack on Israel by a group affiliated with HAMAS, which rules Gaza. In addition, HAMAS is still holding many hostages, including women. Israel responded to this attack with a very violent war. The Israeli army bombed many civilian centres, including hospitals, and unfortunately more than 9,000 innocent Palestinian women were killed in 5 months. What is more tragic is that the world, states and international organisations have failed to stop this ‘genocide’. ‘Humanity’ should not remain so helpless while women and children are being brutally killed! On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we once again make an urgent appeal to all responsible persons and authorities: Stop this massacre, this ‘genocide’ as soon as possible!

Afghanistan is in the third year of Taliban rule and women’s basic rights are being restricted day by day. Women summarise their situation as “We are alive but not living.” In 2023, the Taliban introduced new restrictions on women and girls. Some of these are as follows: Women and girls are banned from receiving education from the 6th grade onwards, and in some areas they are not allowed to attend any school after the age of 10. Women’s work in national and international NGOs was suspended. Beauty centres were closed and women were banned from using gyms. In addition, women who do not wear the headscarf, as demanded by the Taliban, are arrested. It is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Afghan women and ensure that they regain their basic rights.

In Iran, a new veiling law came into force in 2023, imposing up to 10 years in prison for women who dress ‘indecently’. Tens of thousands of women have had their cars confiscated as punishment for defying this ban. Others have been prosecuted, sentenced to flogging or imprisonment, or faced other penalties such as fines or ‘attending moral classes’. Some have been threatened with death or sexual violence. We demand that the Iranian government respect the rights of women and girls and take immediate action to stop this persecution.

Turkey has not performed well on women’s rights in recent years and the situation has worsened since 2021. Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, which it signed in 2011, by presidential decree in March 2021. This encourages impunity for crimes against women. For example, 334 women were killed by men in 2022, rising to 438 last year. In addition, for the last 10 years the Turkish government has been using ‘anti-terrorism laws’, which are not compatible with the ECHR, to silence dissent in the country. According to official statistics, nearly 100,000 women have been prosecuted under these laws since 2015 and more than 50,000 of them have been arrested. Some of those still in detention have not been released, despite the ECtHR’s ‘violation of rights’ judgement in 2023. Prisons in Turkey are overcrowded and women prisoners are subjected to inhuman treatment, including sexual harassment, strip searches and psychological torture. Sick, pregnant, infant and elderly women continue to be held in prisons in violation of the law. The international community should press the Turkish government to ensure that women and girls from vulnerable populations are provided with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives.

The ongoing Russian occupation and war in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on women. According to UN figures, 80 per cent of the approximately 8.5 million displaced Ukrainians are women and girls. These women are often the targets of violence and sexual abuse. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women serve alongside men in the army. Women who are not on the front line are under mental and physical pressure to care for their families and rebuild their lives. We must do everything we can to support women in Ukraine and ensure that their voices are heard.

We should not forget the impact on women of the restrictions on immigration imposed by Western countries. Many women are forced to leave home and family behind in search of a better life, only to face discrimination and hardship in their new countries. We must call on governments to do more to support these women and provide the resources they need to thrive.

On the other hand, the digital divide is greater for women and they are victimised by new forms of online violence and harassment. It is crucial to ensure that these technologies incorporate a human rights-first approach and prioritise the protection of women and girls on their platforms.

In conclusion, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we have to remember that gender equality and women’s participation in decision-making and representation mechanisms is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. We must realise that we cannot achieve equality without eliminating gender-based violence. We must also recognise that no society can reach its full potential if half of its population is left behind.

On this day, we call on governments and other national and international organisations to take immediate action to address the many challenges and injustices faced by women around the world. Only then can we build a more just and equitable world for all.

 

london
CommitteeEducationEventsExecutive Committee

Join our ‘Move and Muse-Walk Through History’ event

‘Move and Muse-Walk’ project in Central London starts in March, led by London Advocacy and HRS, promoting history and community. Our project titled ‘Move and Muse-Walking Through History in Central London’ starts in March. The community walking and support project, run jointly by London Advocacy and Human Rights Solidarity (HRS), will give participants the opportunity to explore the historical and cultural richness of London. It also aims to improve participants’ physical and mental health, teach them new skills and build stronger links with the local community.

 

Funded by the London Marathon Foundation and Transport for London, an expert tour guide will explain the highlights of British history. The events, which will be limited to central London, will take place on the 2nd Saturday of each month and will last approximately 4 hours (11:00-14:00) including breaks.

Details about the programme are as follows:

  •  Participation in the programme with the family will be accepted.
  • We can accept a maximum of 25 participants for each trip. As we anticipate high demand, participants will be accepted in order of registration.
  • The hike will be led by a certified tour guide. During the hike, participants will be provided with headphones and will have the opportunity to listen to the guide’s narration remotely.
  • Participants will receive a certificate of participation (provided they have participated in at least 5 walks).
  • Most of the walks will take place in historic and tourist attractions in central London.
  • There will be no refreshments on the walks, but there will be a coffee break at the end of the programme.

For participation in the event, you can send an e-mail to

third-humanity-cartoons-competition
CommitteeImmigration Committee

The third ‘Humanity Cartoons’ competition starts

The 3rd International Immigration Cartoon Competition by HRS, Time to Help, and Dialogue Society is underway, aiming to raise awareness. The 3rd International Immigration Cartoon Competition organised by Human Rights Solidarity, Time to Help UK and Dialogue Society has started. The competition called ‘Humanity Cartoons’ has been announced on the relevant platforms and some artists have already submitted their works. The competition will remain open until 15 May and the winning cartoonists will be awarded a total of 3,300 USD. The results of the competition will be made public in early June.

The competition focuses on raising awareness and inspiring reflection on the plight of migrants through cartoon art. Participants are encouraged to be 16 years of age or older and to submit original and creative cartoons that specifically address the challenges faced by migrants.

Migration and asylum are among the most important topics of discussion in the world today. Migration flows from East to West and from South to North are increasing exponentially every year. Last year, around 80,000 people applied for asylum in the UK. According to the UN report, more than 110 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2023.

3 organisations working on behalf of humanity are organising this competition to draw attention to this important issue through the vast and expressive language of art. The winning entries will be exhibited during Refugee Week in June and at other times across the UK. This raises public awareness about the reality of migrants and refugees. The winning entries from last year’s competition were exhibited in London, Newcastle and Oxford and attracted considerable attention.

For more information about the competition, please click here.

human-rights-panel
Executive Committee

Our human rights panel in Newcastle brought together 47 organisation

 

HRS hosted a notable panel in Newcastle, with NEDES, Asylum Matters, and Northumbria Police. 47 organizations and 100 guests participated. Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) organised a remarkable panel discussion in Newcastle. Organised by the Newcastle Branch of HRS, North East Diversity, Education and Solidarity Foundation (NEDES), Asylum Matters and Northumbria Police at St. Mary’s Heritage Centre, the ‘Human Rights Activism Panel and Networking Event’ was attended by 47 organisations operating in the city. 18 associations or foundations opened a promotional stand at the event and more than 100 guests attended the panel on ‘human rights and activism’.

In the panel, 5 experts working in the field of human rights made presentations on different topics. Dr Erhan Atay, Lecturer at Northumbria University, gave a presentation on ‘High-Skilled Refugees: Positive Psychological Capital for Coping and Resilience’, while HRS Consultant and journalist-writer Kerim Balcı provided answers to the question ‘How can local human rights organisations benefit from UN mechanisms?’

Jennifer Laws from Asylum Matters Foundation discussed the importance and challenges of defending the right to asylum in the UK; Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director of Skim Stone, discussed inequalities in the arts sector and the need to reconsider the importance of diverse voices and cultures. Richard Kotter, a lecturer at Northumbria University and Amnesty executive director, presented ‘How and why not to be popular within reason? Reflections on campaigning for accountability, fairness, justice and human rights’.

A guitarist and soloist from Skim Stone Art Gallery performed before and after the panel. In addition, the winners of the international cartoon competition on ‘migration’ organised by HRS and Time to Help UK were displayed on the walls and pillars of St. Mary’s Heritage Centre. The cartoons, which were presented by HRS volunteers, depicting the difficulties faced by refugees and migrants, were highly appreciated.

Mehmet Ozdemir, HRS Chairman of the Board of Trustee, gave an overview of the panel and the event and said that it was the first time in the UK that they had organised such a broad-based programme with local organisations and that it had been a success. Emphasising that HRS Newcastle Representative Office and NEDES’ devoted efforts were behind the success, Ozdemir said: “The success of the programme is not only limited to the fact that it was well organised, but also that there were very good breakthroughs on behalf of HRS. For example, we decided to work with Northumbria University in the future on the UPR reports we are preparing for submission to the UN. There were university students among the participants who wanted to volunteer for HRS. Most importantly, we saw that local organisations can fight for human rights on an international scale and we had the opportunity to make connections in this regard.”

 

demand-freedom-justice-for-Iranian-lawyers
CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We demand freedom and justice for Iranian lawyers

Lawyers in Danger Day was dedicated to Iran this year. HRS organised a protest and sent a letter Iranian Ambassador. 24 January Lawyers in Danger Day was dedicated to Iranian lawyers this year. As HRS, we organised a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London in support of lawyers facing rights violations in Iran. Together with lawyers in Iran, we demanded justice, freedom and democracy for all their colleagues around the world. We also sent a letter to Ambassador Mehdi Hosseini Matin with our concrete proposals.

International Day of Endangered Lawyers has been celebrated all over the world on 24 January since 2010. This date was chosen because on 24 January 1977, four lawyers and a colleague were killed in Madrid and this event is known as the Atocha Massacre.

Iran is among the most dangerous countries for lawyers. Since the 1979 revolution, lawyers have been subjected to harassment and persecution. Following the protests that followed the tortured murder of Jina Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022, the crackdown intensified, particularly on lawyers defending imprisoned protesters.

Since 2021, around 60 lawyers have been detained and hundreds have lost their licences. Most recently, Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer for Mahsa Amini’s family, was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and “collaboration with hostile states”.

The independence of lawyers is heavily restricted by law. There is an almost complete lack of access to legal representation of one’s choice for anyone arrested and charged in connection with protests.

Women lawyers in Iran face additional difficulties. They are forced to wear the hijab in court, and some have been prosecuted for refusing to do so. Female lawyers also face particular harassment in the courtroom.

Please find below the letter we sent to the Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin: