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Category: Events

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.

 

EventsImmigration Committee

‘Exhibition in Exile’ in the most famous streets of London

DATE: 20 June 2022

PLACE: London

COMMITTEE: Immigration  

While the British government was planning to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, we organised a travelling exhibition at the famous London landmarks to remind the public of the difficulties refugees face on World Refugee Day, on the 20th of June.

While the decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was an extensive discussion in the British Parliament, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, on the 20th of June, we organised an exhibition known as the ‘Exhibition in Exile’ of cartoons drawn by world-renowned artists to draw attention to refugee problems. It was a travelling exhibition at famous London landmarks to remind the public of the difficulties refugees face.

The exhibition hosted a selection of the 120 best cartoons selected initially from among 1,200 submissions to a global cartoon contest organised by KYM (Kimse Yok Mu) in 2016. In addition to these cartoons, the cartoon was carried by 25 volunteers, most of whom were also refugees, with successful refugee stories to raise awareness. We moved the cartoon through the British Parliament, Parliament Square, Victoria Tower Garden, and Westminster Bridge.

 

One of the cartoons in the exhibition was by Oleksiy Kustovski that describes how refugees travel thousands of miles alone, carrying their whole lives in a small suitcase. It is sometimes a mother and child, sometimes an unaccompanied child or family, who are fleeing to safety from the dangers of their birth country.

Xavier Bonilla drew the lives lost at sea while fleeing to safety. People are desperately getting into the dangerous waters despite not knowing how to swim, and sometimes the weather conditions or pushbacks don’t let them continue their journey. Only a small number of people survive in a sinking dinghy.

When we told the people who viewed the exhibition what difficulties a refugee went through, we immediately met with their support and their interest became an absolute source of motivation for our new projects.

 

BlogCommitteeEventsImmigration Committee

Send a message to asylum seekers

By Asiye Betul

This August, me and my activist friends found each other in a state of despair and overwhelmed by the events happening throughout the year. It wasn’t only a disgraceful year for our government, which would send asylum seekers to Rwanda if they had not been stopped by activists, lawyers and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). But also for British law and human rights. Also, as immigrants who have faced injustices by the state and knew what it was like to be alienated and discriminated between our communities, we knew we could never stay silent to another person facing the same thing. And we decided it was time to take action.

 We stood in Trafalgar square with our “Justice Wall”, a 1.8-meter tall wall made out of fabric, where we promote free speech and demand all human rights. This time our Justice Wall was themed after asylum seekers and refugees still facing discrimination by our Home Office and Government. We aimed not only to demand their justice but also to deliver messages of support and solidarity to them. Central London, especially Trafalgar square, which is located near Soho and Westminster, was the perfect location.

 We had children coming up to our wall and leaving welcoming messages for asylum seekers, toddlers drawing hearts and people hand to hand (which was my absolute favourite part of this project), tourists leaving messages of solidarity in their own languages, and many supportive messages such as “Do not dare give up” and “You are loved, and welcomed”.

 This project might not sound like a very big deal at first, but for me, it was London and the people of London showing their true faces. It was London telling us that, despite its government, we are welcome, and If there we were in a place of danger and discrimination, the people of London would not stay silent and stand up for us. An act of solidarity on its own.

Injustices may rise, but we will not prevail. The names of those who do injustice will be forgotten, but our strength and solidarity will always be remembered. So will we 🙂

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

EventsWomen’s Rights

International Women’s Day March 2020

DATE: 7 March 2020

PLACE: Oxford Street & Trafalgar Square, London

COMMITTEE: Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee

The Million Women March of 2020 was the first major event volunteers of Human Rights Solidarity participated under the brand of HRS. To this day, HRS volunteers look at this event as the birthday of their organized activism.

The Million Women March of 2020 was held on Saturday, 7th of March. The event incorporated a protest march through Oxford Street and a rally at the Trafalgar Square. The volunteers of HRS participated the event with a symbolic prison cell, connoting the imprisoned women of Turkey and calling for an immediate release of mothers who are incarcerated with their under 6 children. The founding chair of HRS’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Ms Nazli Bozdemir, walked in the prison cell, with a baby in her arms, to that end.

The peak of the event for HRS was when Miss Anonymous, a masked and unnamed volunteer of HRS ascended the stage set at the center of the Trafalgar Square and shouted: Ain’t I a woman?

You can watch the touching pome of Miss Anonymous, accompanied with scenes from the march, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79AeIOYvRo4

EventsWrite For Right

Write for Rights: Stop torture against Husamettin Ugur

DATE: 9 August 2020

PLACE: Hyde Park Entrance, London

COMMITTEE: Write for Rights

Husamettin Ugur is a former judge and a former member of the Court of Appeals of Turkey who was arrested on charges of membership of a terrorist organization at the immediate aftermath of 15 July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. He was kept in the same prison cell for four years at the time of our campaign. Some six months before our campaign, five of the prison guards assaulted him. That incident unleashed a continous systemic torture against Mr Ugur. He tried to speak out many times, by sending letters and passing them to his daughters. Unfortunately, his words did not even go one step out of the prison because of the obstruction of prison management. His daughter tried to be the voice of him on social media.

As HRS we wanted to make sure that Mr Ugur, and any other inmate from Turkey, would not be subjected to torture anymore. As part of our Write for Rights Campaign, we set up a letter writing banch at the entrance of the Hyde Park and managed to get 97 letters signed and sent to the members of the parliament, by their constituents.

We received several replies from the MPs promissing to pass the information to the Secretary of State for the Foreign Office.

 

EventsWrite For Right

Write for Right: We stend by Melek Cetinkaya

DATE: 24 August 2020

PLACE: Hyde Park, London

COMMITTEE: Write for Rights

As human rights defenders we believe no activism is as valuable as the activism of the very victims of human rights infringements. Ms Melek Çetinkaya is one such inspirational, trailblazing human rights activist. She is the mother of Furkan Çetinkaya, one of the military academy students sentenced to a life term in jail for a coup that never was, and a participation that never happened. Ms Melek Çetinkaya believes in her son’s innocence and tries to make her voice heard on social media and the streets of Turkey, so that her son, who is still in prison, can be retried.

Melek Çetinkaya’s struggle for her son is disliked by the political power, which does not want its own narrative of the July 15 Coup Attempt of Turkey be challenged. Ms Çetinkaya has been detained several times while trying to use her right to peaceful demonstration. In the last occasion, Ms Çetinkaya was detained detained for the alleged crime of “praising crime and criminal activity” due to her words in a program she attended on Akit TV, where she claimed that her son and other military cadets who didn’t join to coup attemt were innocent.

To decide whether Furkan Çetinkaya did or didn’t participate the coup attempt is not the duty of human rights defenders. Our duty is to stand by a mother who is trying to enjoy her most basic right to demonstrate and ask for a fair trial. Therefore, on 24 August 2020, with eight volunteers, we were at the entrance of Hyde Park. We collected signed letters from passerbyes urging their MPs to call Turkey to release Melek Cetinkaya and stop detention of protesters.

 

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.

 

EventsWomen’s Rights

Casserole at home

DATE: 25 November 2020 

PLACE: Private Houses 

COMMITTEE: Women’s Rights & Gender Equality Committee 

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, HRS organized a CasseroleAtHome protest to raise awareness on domestice violence.  

One woman is killed every three days by a man in the UK. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives and quarantines caused many people to stuck in the same house with their abusers. This made the domectic violence records of all countries in the world even worse.  

We wanted to call for attention to domestic violence by asking people to make noise by banging pots, pans and other utensils. There are a lot of people who do not know that they are abusing their partners or are being abused by them. We aimed to shout out this ignorance.  

Our volunteering CasseroleAtHome protersters quitted their houses, armed with pots and pans, at 7.00 PM on 25 November, to bang and clang and make as much noise as possible for five minutes to remind the world of the elephant in the room; violence against women. As HRS’s response to the pandemic restrictions, CasseroleAtHome provided an opportunity to protest in isolation.  

You can watch our video call for CasseroleAtHome here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTZMpG42tl0