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Category: Human Rights Defenders

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HRS statement on mass arrests in Turkey

Human Rights Solidarity is deeply concerned about the mass arrests of people with alleged relations to imprisoned members or imputed members of the Gulen Movement. The victims of this latest campaign of arrests are reportedly unemployed and impoverished relatives of already imprisoned people who have accepted humanitarian aid from third parties in times of difficulty.

Supporting relatives of inmates serving their terms is a virtue. However, forcing relatives of inmates to hunger and misery is the actual crime. This is kin punishment.

In a press release today, Turkish Interior Minister Mr Suleyman Soylu stated that the Turkish police launched a mass arrest campaign against people who are accused of financially helping relatives of prisoners affiliated with the Gulen Movement and the recipients of such help. According to the statement, police raided houses in 59 different cities, searching for 704 people, 543 of whom are already detained.

Human Rights Solidarity is concerned that;

  • In the run-up towards an early election in the country, these operations will be intensified and used to create a sense of security threat to crystalise public support around President Erdogan,
  • Such mass campaigns are organised in response to international criticism about Turkey’s application of its vague anti-terrorism laws to silence dissent. Turkey was recently criticised in the Council of Europe’s Monitoring Committee Report prepared by British parliamentarian John Howell and his Latvian colleague Boriss Cilevics. In his talk of support at the Parliamentary Assembly, British Parliamentarian Sir Edwar Leigh had labelled Turkey’s proscription of the Gulen Movement as a terrorist organisation as a “ridiculous” act unsupported by any Western intelligence organisation.
  • Such mass arrests give credence to the 2020 observation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that the mass arrests of the alleged Gulenists “may establish a pattern amounting to crimes against humanity.”

Human Rights Solidarity, we invite all concerned individuals and organisations to raise their voices against these arrests.

The frontier for the fight against human rights violations anywhere is everywhere.

 

EventsExecutive CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We reminded ECHR to fulfil their duty

DATE: 24 June 2022

PLACE: Strasbourg, France

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders 

 

Strasbourg protest was a joint protest among 24 organisations in Europe. The main goal of this protest was to let the European Court of Human Rights know that we are not holding back and not accepting them to blind their eyes to human rights abuses in Turkey.

Since 2016 European Court of Human Rights has barely decided cases on Turkey’s significant human rights violations. All the organisations there prepared a joint letter to the ECHR, and when the protest crowd reached the front ECHR, we wanted to give the joint letter to them and continue protesting till we went to the European council and council of Europe. A significant number of people, more than ten thousand, were there. They were all shouting and asking for justice.

The protest continued with a rally, where people who managed to escape from Turkey, family members of enforcedly disappeared people in Turkey, family members who died on the way from running from Turkey, and people who experienced prison and whose loved ones are in prison unjustly and more. They have asked to end this .

The mission of ECHR is to ‘raise the standards of protection of human rights and extending human rights jurisprudence throughout the community of the Convention States’. However, it has been evident since 2016 that Turkey has breached significant obligations under international law, including human rights. ECHR has stopped considering the cases, which was the point everyone raised at the protest.

The protest raised an issue and showed the ECHR, Council of Europe, and European Council that people are in tremendous suffering and justice needs to be addressed immediately.

 

EventsExecutive CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We are asking release of Inandi and other victims

DATE: 01 June 2022

PLACE: Turkish Embassy, London

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders

Dear Friends!

We are once again in front of the Turkish Embassy in London!

We would love to have come here for celebration of Turkey’s EU membership, or of an international success of a Turkish team. But we are here for a reason that shames us all: We are here to protest the human rights violations the Turkish regime has been perpetuating.

We are here to protect the most basic human rights of living free lives, freedom of travelling and the right to have a fair trial.

Today is the anniversary of enforced disappearance of Educationist Orhan Inandi.

On this day last year, Orhan Inandi was forced to get off his car and was forcefully dragged to a van. His wife Reydan Inandi alarmed the world.

Orhan Inandi’s students and many Kyrgyz citisens called for a stop to his possible extradition to Turkey. Believing that he was kept at the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek, many camped around the embassy, protesting and demanding his immediate release.

Some of you were with us in protesting exactly here, in front of the Turkish Embassy.

For more than a month neither the Kyrgyz nor the Turkish authorities said anything about whereabouts of Orhan Inandi despite all calls from the United Nations.

Only after 37 days, the Turkish President stated that the Turkish intelligence had brought him to Turkey.

The Kyrgyz Government, which had previously awarded Inandi with a medal of honour was also complicit in this crime.

Orhan Inandi was tortured. He was forced to become an informer. He declined. His right hand was kept in strappado. He has been in jail for a year now and his right hand is still not fully cured.

Turkey’s Erdogan Regime has already become a mafia regime.

Every other day we hear another story of torture coming from Turkey.

This government kidnapped more than 100 educationists from around the world.

More than that number have forcefully disappeared within Turkey.

Sunay Elmas, Ayhan Oran, Yusuf Bilge Tunc, Gulistan Doku, Hurmuz Diril, Mehmet Bal…

These are only a few of the people who has gone missing for months and even years.

The Turkish Government is doing nothing to find them.

Because the perpetrator is the government.

In Turkey pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, ill and elderly people are arrested every other day.

Innocent girls are tortured under the pretext of investigation.

None of these are acceptable.

We reject all of these illegalities.

Turkish courts are not upholding the country’s laws, constitution and international obligations.

Erdogan has openly declared that he does not recognize the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

In fact, the European Courts decisions on Selahattin Demirtas and Osman Kavala have not been implemented.

How? And why the democratic word does not do anything to stop this?

The compromises given to the dicta regime in Ankara invites for more illegalities.

Today, this regime is asking for extradition of journalists and academics who have sought asylum in Sweden and Finland in return for unblocking these countries’ NATO membership.

Europe: Erdogan takes this courage from the concessions you gave to him as the guardian of Europe’s borders against immigrants.

Our governments are complicit in Erdogan regime’s crimes.

You cannot become truly democratic in London while blinding yourself to the human rights violations in Turkey.

We are a bunch of people here in front of the Turkish embassy – what we are doing is in fact the responsibility of all human rights organizations, of all democratic institutions of the world.

We are asking immediate release of Orhan Inandi and all other victims of enforced disappearances all around the world.

We are asking information on the whereabouts of other missing people who have gone missing while under state custody.

We support the basic human right of living free from arbitrary detention and unnecessary state intervention into one’s life.

We support the right to a fair trial for Orhan Inandi and for all other inmates in Turkish prisons.

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for being with us and supporting this cause today.

Thank you…

EventsHuman Rights DefendersImmigration Committee

‘Exhibition in Exile’ finds refuge in Newcastle Church

An exhibition of immigration cartoons by renowned cartoonists which had to flee persecution in Turkey together with its organizers in 2016 found a refuge in St James’ Benwell Church of Newcastle upon Tyne. Human Rights Solidarity joined Time to Help, GemArt, Comfrey Project and Being Woman as the organizers of the four days long exhibition.

A consortium of humanitarian aid, human rights, immigrant support organizations and a local church in Benwell are hosting an exhibition of cartoons on immigration, refugees and asylum seekers and the cynical response of the industrialized world to this emerging phenomenon. The exhibition is formed of cartoons that themselves had to flee Turkey in late 2016 when the organizing humanitarian aid organization Kimse Yok Mu (KYM), then a member of the UN’s ECOSOC, was taken over by the authoritarian regime in the country. Hence, the name Exhibition in Exile.

London based Time to Help and Human Rights Solidarity and Newcastle based GemArt, ComFrey Project and Being Woman came together to bring the cartoons that had been brought to Newcastle upon Tyne by Mr Levent Eyüpoğlu, a former director of KYM and a refugee in Newcastle, to life. The exhibition will be hosted by St. James’ Benwell Church between 23 and 26 June and will be open to visitors from 10:00 am to 4 pm throughout these dates.

The exhibition will host a selection from the 120 best cartoons originally selected from among 1,200 submissions to a global cartoon contest organized by KYM in 2016. The organizers have also brought together Turkish and other immigrant musicians and artists for a series of accompanying events, including live music, various art workshops and a panel of prominent figures active in immigration related affairs.

The launching event of the Exhibition in Exile will start at 11:00 am on 23 June 2022, Thursday with a cocktail and it will be followed with a panel discussion with the participation of Mr Kerim Balci as the moderator of the panel, environmental visual artist Artep Avordno, ex-Lord Mayor and councillor Habib Rahman, Director of The Comfrey Project Eleni Venaki and academics and activists.

The Exhibition in Exile will be open to visits till 4:00 pm on 26 June 2022, Sunday, the last day of the Refugee Week 2022.

WHAT: Exhibition in Exile: An exhibition of cartoons by renowned cartoonists on immigration, refugees and asylum seekers accompanied by a panel discussion, music performance by immigrant community groups and art workshops.

WHEN: 23 June (Launching event, panel discussion and music performance); 23-26 June 2022 (Exhibition, art workshops and occasional live music)

WHERE: St James’ Benwell Church, Benwell Lane, Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 6RS

EventsHuman Rights Defenders

Magnitsky Sanctions workshops

DATE: 29 March 2021 & 17 May 2021

PLACE: Zoom

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders Committee

The Global Magnitsky Act is a powerful new tool for deterring human rights violations and fighting corruption. Magnistsky Act is a new form of sanctions for gross human rights violations. By sanctioning individuals who engage in the worst abuses of power, the United States hardens its own system to external abuse while extending moral support and solidarity to those whose fundamental freedoms are curtailed or denied. As it is was announced in July 2020 in the United Kingdom, there is only several people who know the details and how the application process work. Therefore, as HRS, we invited experts to a series of workshops with human rights lawyers from the UK and the EU countries.

On 29 March 2021 our instructors were from REDRESS; Leanna Burnard and Celeste Kmiotek.

Leanna Burnard is the Legal Officer for Asset Recovery and Sanctions. She focuses on REDRESS’ asset recovery and sanctions work. Leanna has an amazing background in human rights litigation. She volunteered for the Yazidis in Iraq, Palestinians in West Bank, Aboriginal people in Australia and at many other posts. Leanna has an LL.M. in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights from the Geneva Academy and bachelor’s degrees in law and journalism from Australia.

Celecste Kmiotek is a legal fellow at REDRESS. Prior to REDRESS, Celeste was a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic while pursuing her J.D. at Harvard Law. She worked on human rights abused in Bolivia and Cambodia.

The two lectured our guests on the development and application of the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

On 17 Mary 2021, our instructor was Paola Gaffurini, an advocacy officer from the Open Dialogue Foundation. Paola lectured our guests on “The EU Framework and the Future Potentials of the European Magnitsky Acts.

 

EventsHuman Rights Defenders

Impunity: An Unchanging Rule in Turkey

DATE: 26 June 2021

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders Committee

On the occasion of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2020, Human Rights Solidarity’s Human Rights Defenders Committee brought together experts on the mechanism of impunity in Turkey and how international legal schemes can be used to fill the vacuum. 

On 26 June 2020 we invited lawyers and human rights experts to discuss the findings of a recent report on impunity in Turkey by the Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU), Human Rights Defenders (HRD) and Arrested Lawyers Initiative (ALI). The report, Impunity: An Unchanging Rule in Turkey underlined that in Turkey impunity is not an aberration, but, rather, it is the norm when a rights violation is committed against individuals by state officials.

The report observed that Turkey’s impunity policy had three pillars:

  • the moral legitimization of the unlawful acts of state officials,
  • the protection provided for perpetrators by administrative and judicial authorities,
  • the legal regulations either constitute obstacles for investigation and prosecution or provide for an explicit impunity for perpetrators.

Apart from discussing the findings of the report, our panellists discussed the applicability of international mechanisms like universal jurisdiction, UN mechanism, European Court of Human Rights and the Magnitsky laws to the case of Turkey and the difficulties therein.

Our panellists were:

  • Antonio Stango, International human rights expert. President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights. Professor of Human Rights at Rome Link Campus University
  • Natacha Bracq, Human Rights Lawyer with the Paris Bar & Senior Officer for Training and Capacity Building at the International Nuremberg Principles Academy
  • Gonzalo Boye, Lawyer based in Spain, Expert on Universal Jurisdiction
  • Coskun Yorulmaz, Turkish Lawyer, London Advocacy and The Arrested Lawyers Initiative

The event was hosted by Burak Haylamaz from Human Rights Solidarity.

Outcomes of the Panel

Co-chair of Human Rights Solidarity’s Human Rights Defenders Committee Miss Esra Kalkan wrote a blog on her observations from the panel. Her “Impunity Webinar: In Turkey neither torture nor impunity are an exception anymore” can be found here. [Please put the link]

Attorney Coskun Yorulmaz’s presentation was a briefing on the findings of the report Impunity: An Unchanging Rule in Turkey. His brief can be found at our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-VFQxcIFbc

Prof Antonio Stango’s speech was mainly about international mechanisms that can fill the gap of lacking domestic remedies. Prof Stango particularly delved into the UN mechanisms and the newly emerging Magnitsky laws. Prof Stango’s speech can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JSJ8RO6Y0I

Human Rights Lawyer Natacha Bracq spoke about the limits of the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court as international remedies for the victims of torture. Natacha Bracq’s presentation can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqGZG8wdm_E

Lawyer Gonzalo Boye, an expert on universal jurisdiction and somebody who had experienced torture in person brought the lessons he extracted from the Spanish case. Boye underlined that confessions taken under torture are being used against people who managed to flee the persecuting countries in extradition requests. Mr Boye’s presentation can be watched on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gljEIIDYe_A

What did we learn?

Torture and impunity are global phenomena. Authoritarian regimes establish mechanisms of impunity and guarantee that victims of torture do not have access to mechanisms redress. Though there are international mechanisms, all have their own weaknesses also. European Court of Human Rights suffer from heavy workload and does not have power to impose its decisions on the states. United Nations has established several mechanisms like working groups, special rapporteurs and Universal Periodical Review, but reaching a result might take years and processes are too complicated for a victim to navigate through. Universal jurisdiction is a promising area but only if evidence of torture is preserved and some countries ask of presence of either the victim, or the alleged culprit in their jurisdictions. Magnitsky laws are promising in that they are not judicial but administrative measures and are spreading worldwide.

Human rights advocacy necessitates momentum building that can take years sometimes. We have to be realistic in our expectations from international mechanisms, but the fact that they are slow or deficient should not stop us from appealing to them.

IMAGE CREDIT: Carlos Latuff/TheGlobePost.org (link to original)

 

 

EventsHuman Rights DefendersYoutube

Celebrating young defenders

DATE:  9 December 2020

PLACE: YouTube Live

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders Committee

Youth-led human rights activism has never been an easy task. Young human rights defenders faced multiple challenges in a more and more divided world, even before the global pandemic.

This year on the 9th of December we celebrated these brave young human rights defenders who showed resilience even in the darkest of times. We celebrated and applauded their heroism, successes and sacrifices for a better future for us all.

To show our appreciation of their work, we invited a diverse range of speakers from many different backgrounds and cultures throughout Europe to join us at our YouTuve Live event.

The event featured the following names:

Asiye Betül, a co-chair of YAct, the Youth Action Committee of the HRS.

Finlay Pringle, the 13 years old activist who has been involved in campaigning on conservation of the oceans and marine life. He is an activist with FFF. which stands for Fridays for Future… Also called Youth Strike for Climate, FFF is an international movement of school students striking on Fridays for climate.

Sara Nathan, a human rights activist working on Access to Accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers at her organization Refugees at Home. Sara is a broadcast journalist by background. She served in many public authorities before she became a co-founder of the Refugees At Home charity. Refugees at Home finds hosts in Britain for destitute asylum-seekers and refugees. She has since hosted refugees from many countries including Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt. Refugees at home have made over 1700 placements and hosted over 140,000 individual person nights.

Rumi Unal, an international relations graduate from Turkey. Rumi used to be a Turkish diplomat. He served in South Korea and Bulgaria. He was dismissed from his job during the mass dismissals after the Coup Attempt in Turkey. He is now the coordinator of Collectif DDH based in Paris. Collectif DDH is specialized in human rights violations in Turkey.

Xeni Dani from MOKA: Meet Over Culture and Arts. We love the idea of MOKA. Xeni was a child immigrant from Albania to Italy. As she grew up she dedicated herself to human rights. She has been working on cases of political persecution, torture and violations of freedom of expression.

Paola Gaffurini, an advocacy officer at the Open Dialogue Foundation. Open Dialogue Foundation has been active in post-Soviet countries and the European Union to help victims of grave human rights violations.

Antonia Kuhn, an aspiring lawyer from Germany. Antonia is active within the ranks of Amnesty International Germany/ and is coordinating the work of Amnesty International Germany on Brazil.  Antonia was one of the two German Youth Delegates to the UN General Assembly in 2018. She has a long list of accomplishments in human rights activism which we are very excited to hear about.

Kadir Ertürk and Musa Obuz from the Solidarity Band. The Solidarity Band is the music group of the Human Rights Solidarity. Kadir and Musa performed two Turkish songs. The first one is Black Train, Kara Tren in Turkish. This is a sad song from the times of the First World War and it tells the hopes and despair of people waiting for a letter from the frontiers about their loved ones. The letters would come with the Black Train. So called because these steam trains would all be painted black. And occasionally bad news would arrive…

The second song was a more lively and celebratory one. Caney Caney… Originally a Kurdish song, Caney Caney complains about friends who show up only in good days and are lost when they are most needed

Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

Ali Dinçer, another Turkish diplomat who lost his job during the mass purge that followed the Coup Attempt of 2016. After leaving Turkey he became the Secretary General of the Belgium based Solidarity with OTHERS. The OTHERS is active on reporting and keeping databases of widespread human rights violations in Turkey.

Fiona Amony, a 24-year old activist from Uganda. Fiona joined Restless Development as a Volunteer on the Girls’ Advocacy Alliance (GAA) project. She advocated for workplaces free from sexual harassment. Throughout the pandemic, she has been voluntarily running a helpline.

Bethany Holden, the founder of RefuNet which is connecting refugees and volunteers who would like to teach them English. We spoke with Bethany on how language education helps refugees realize their rights and perhaps make them feel more integrated and free.

Shila Block and Tash Thomass, to gender equality activists. Shila Block on the human rights of women in conflict areas. In 2018 she was a youth delegate to the CSW (Conference on Women’s rights at the UN). Today she is a part of the National Youth activist of UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum.

And Tash is an LGBTQ activist from the United Kingdom. She is the Director of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion at European Coworking Assembly.

Amirah Hussein, a masters student at LSR in human rights and politics. Amirah used to be the President of the Amnesty International Society in the University of Nottingham, while doing her BA. She is commenting on human rights and student life in her Instagram account.

Nuray Düzenli of the European Institute for Sustainable Development.

Our last speaker was the Co-Chair of the Human Rights Solidarity, Merve Aslangoren. Merve is a law student from Coventry University, UK. She is a member of the founding cohort of the Human Rights Solidarity.

The whole event can be watched here, at our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxwf37vyHsQ

EventsHuman Rights Defenders

Webinar on Human Rights activism with Mandela’s doctrine

DATE: 18 July 2020

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders Committee

On the occasion of the the Human Rights Defenders Committee of the Human Rights Solidarity invited Dr. Rajendran T Govender, an anthropologist and social cohesion expert from South Africa, to lecture about the lessons we the human rights activists can learn from Nelson Mandela’s life and doctrine.

Although he died in 2013 at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela’s entire life still stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit and that life continues to inspire liberation fighters and human rights defenders alike. When he opted for a peaceful end to the Apartheid, Mandela taught the humanity a vital lesson: It is possible to be a great political leader and a great human being at the same time.

He himself passed through challenges of apartheid, physical imprisonment, betrayals and doubt, but when he acquired the power position he reached out to his old enemy. That wisdom made him one of the world’s greatest-ever humanitarians.

Human rights defenders often are challenged with similar dilemmas: The offenders of human rights are also human beings.

Can we learn from Nelson Mandela’s legacy?

After all, Mandela was not only a liberation leader. He ushered hundreds of women into the political sphere and made them into actors of history. Though late, he joined the fight against HIV/AIDS and promoted scientific and environmental education. He brought education to rural areas of his country and fought for children. He established a rule of law culture in his country and left behind a legacy that would contribute to peace and justice around the world.

What does his life tell us about our fight on the face of a global human rights abuse pandemic?

This YouTube interview-lecture was hosted by the Human Rights Defenders Committee of the Human Rights Solidarity. The panel consists of an overview human rights activism and the effect of Mandela’s beliefs on modern day human rights practices with Dr. Rajendran T Govender.

The interview-lecture is available at our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz8RXzAP-fE