Tag: Letter

letter-un-turkish- government-repression-citizens-
Articles & StatementsHuman Rights DefendersUnited Nations

Letter to the UN on the Turkish government’s transnational repressions

 

In the letter, we expressed our deep concern to UN officials about escalation of extraterritorial repression by the Turkish government.

 

In recent years, there has been a worrying increase in cases where the Turkish government has targeted its own citizens beyond its borders. This phenomenon, characterised by harassment, intimidation, abduction and even violence against Turkish citizens residing abroad, is a direct violation of fundamental human rights and poses a significant threat to global peace and security.

The consequences of this transnational repression are far-reaching, going beyond the victims to affect the integrity of the international human rights framework. By eroding the principles of asylum, safe haven and protection from persecution, the actions of the Turkish government set a dangerous precedent that threatens the safety of individuals seeking to flee repression around the world.

We are gravely concerned by the atmosphere of fear that the Erdogan regime, further strengthened by the election results, has created against Turkish dissidents living abroad. We have written the following letter to the “Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances” and “UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism” in order to make them aware of the issue and to take the necessary steps.

strasbourg-meeting-justice-letter-council-europe-ecthr
Council to EuropeEventsHuman Rights Defenders

2nd Strasbourg meeting for justice: Letter to the Council of Europe and the ECtHR

 

We came together for the second time in Strasbourg to reiterate our call for justice against rights violations in Turkey. Nearly 3 thousand people who have been subjected to rights violations in Turkey met in Strasburg, France, where the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe are located, and demanded urgent justice.

The second ‘Strasbourg Justice Meeting’ and ‘justice march’, the first of which was organised last year, was held today. The march protested against the silence of European political structures and legal institutions in the face of rights violation applications from Turkey.

Organised by a number of European human rights organisations including Human Rights Solidarity, the demonstration included a concert and various theatrical performances. Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party in the UK, also made a speech on the stage, supporting the protesters and criticising the ECHR for delaying its decisions. Famous NBA player and activist Enes Kanter and Norwegian theologian Dag Aakre took the stage and expressed their demands for justice.

Approximately 3 thousand people who left Turkey due to severe human rights violations they suffered in Turkey for about 10 years gathered on All de la Robertsau Street, where the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Council of Europe are located. Wearing yellow t-shirts and carrying yellow balloons and banners, the crowd expressed their demands for justice in front of the Council of Europe and the ECHR buildings after 12.00 pm. “Justice delayed is not justice! Victims are here, where is the court?” they chanted. Since no one from the Council of Europe greeted them, the victims left a letter with their demands at the door. The group then continued their march and stopped in front of the ECHR to present their letters to the officials of the institution.

LETTER TO THREE IMPORTANT EUROPEAN NAMES

Yasemin Aydın and Rumi Unal, representatives of the Peacefull Actions Platform, which represents hundreds of thousands of people whose rights have been violated, presented a letter addressed to three names holding important positions in European institutions. During the presentation of the letter, a theatrical performance was staged criticising the ECHR for issuing its judgements too late. A prison cell on wheels representing people who have been imprisoned for years also took place during the march.

The letter read as follows:

“Inhumane practices against all opposition groups in the country continue unabated. These widespread and systematic violations have been characterised as ‘crimes against humanity’ by the relevant UN bodies. Once again, no progress has been made on the more than three thousand educational institutions, thousands of legal associations and at least $32 billion in private assets confiscated after 15 July. Tens of thousands of women, the elderly, the sick and hundreds of babies under the age of six are still being held in prisons for political reasons. Dozens of people continue to be arrested on hollow charges on an almost daily basis. The hope of thousands of people systematically subjected to gross human rights violations is that the Council of Europe and the ECtHR, which have the authority to take binding decisions on Turkey, will enforce the law. It is essential that these institutions take their legal position on these acts of crimes against humanity without further delay and fulfil their obligations immediately. We are grateful for some of the judgements of the ECtHR during this time, which have been a breath of fresh air for the victims of political repression. However, we expect the Court, as soon as possible, to stop ignoring the fact that more than half a million people are being persecuted simply for exercising their fundamental rights, such as subscribing to a newspaper, having a bank account or sending their children to legally operating schools, joining a religious chat group or using a mobile communication app.”

INJUSTICES HIGHLIGHTED

As in the previous year, this year, as well as foreign guests, people who have been subjected to rights violations in Turkey and their families made speeches at the Justice Gathering. Melek Cetinkaya, mother of Taha Furkan Cetinkaya, a military student who was released after 6 years in prison, lawyer Elif Buyukozturk, teacher Halit Tonbul, teacher Gonca Kara who lost her two children Gulsum and Mustafa in the Aegean Sea, academic Salih Hosoglu, Nesrin Kisi, wife of torture victim Zabit Kisi, were among the speakers.

turkiye-election-presidential- parliamentary
Council to EuropeHuman Rights DefendersReports

Letter to European authorities about Turkey elections

We submitted our letter to the European authorities expressing our concerns about the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey.

The letter expresses our concerns about the elections to be held on May 14, 2023. It has been sent to the following authorities:
Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Council for Democratic Elections of the Venice Commission.

An election with unprecedented importance is forthcoming in Turkey. The next Turkish presidential and parliamentary election will take place on 14 May 2023. Besides the debate about whether Erdogan can be a candidate under the Turkish constitution[1], numerous worrying allegations about the credibility of the elections are frequently being raised in these last days, with less than 50 days before the elections.

As a matter of fact, the German government believes that it is difficult to speak of a fair and free electoral environment in Turkey because of the anti-democratic steps taken in the run-up to the elections[2]. In recent years, Erdoğan has gained unprecedented control over Turkey’s institutions, from the courts to the central bank, and has repeatedly used those powers to manipulate the electoral system in his favour[3]. In March 2022, Erdogan changed the country’s electoral laws in a way that could politicize the oversight of vote counts[4]. Furthermore, all current members of the Supreme Electoral Board were appointed by Erdogan himself[5]. Remembering the fact that the Supreme Electoral Board cancelled the 2019 mayoral election for Istanbul at the request of the ruling AKP, makes Erdogan’s influence over the board more worrying.

Frank Schwabe, head of the PACE Election Observation Mission to Turkey, does not believe that Turkey can ensure democratic environment during the election period[6]. He emphasized the recent reports of the different authorities in the Council of Europe revealing that Turkey is sliding away from the values of a democratic society.

Fraud allegations in Turkish elections are not new at all. In the last elections, the referendum in 2017 and the general election in 2018, allegations of voting fraud in polling stations were brought to the fore by many national and international organizations that were actively monitoring the elections. Opposition parties and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticized the results of the referendum because of the validation of 1.5–2.5 million unstamped ballots by the Supreme Election Board[7]. In addition to legalizing unstamped ballots, the relocation of ballot boxes could also enable the AKP to manipulate results to its benefit—together with other means such as reconfiguring the ethnic makeup of some predominately Kurdish southeastern regions and the use of intimidation. As highlighted in the report of the International Crisis Group, these ballot box relocations can potentially discourage voters who may be reluctant to travel to a neighbouring village associated with a rival Kurdish clan[8]. A. Hunko, German parliamentarian, who was in the election observation mission of the Council of Europe, affirmed that he had been detained by the police in southeastern Turkey and he had never experienced this situation in his previous 15 such missions across the world[9]. He clearly said that the referendum in 2017 was not a free or a fair election. The forensic analysis demonstrates the veracity of allegations on the systematic and highly significant statistical support for the presence of both ballot stuffing and voter rigging[10].

Cevheri Guven, an exiled journalist in Germany, likewise claims that 2,5 million ballots without stamps had been added and admitted in the last presidential election. Above all, he continues to say that there is a strong probability that Erdogan can do the same thing in this election. In his YouTube video, which reached 1 million views in 2 days, He explains in detail how the ballots would be stolen during the elections[11].

Overall, Human Rights Solidarity calls on the relevant authorities of the Council of Europe to take the necessary measures to ensure that the next presidential and parliamentary elections take place in accordance with democratic standards. 

Sources: 

[1] Article 101 of the Turkish Constitution clearly affirms that “…The term of office of the President is five years. A person may be elected President of the Republic at most twice.”. Erdogan have been already elected twice. Hence, whether he can be candidate is very questionable. Academics in constitutional law insist that he cannot be candidate under the constitution.  (Anayasa hukukçuları: Erdoğan yeniden aday olamaz – DW – 19.01.2023)

[2] Berlin: Türkiye’deki seçim sürecinde adil bir ortam yok – DW – 22.03.2023

[3] Defeating Erdoğan: Turkey’s opposition searches for a champion | Financial Times (ft.com), 4 mai 2022

[4] Defeating Erdoğan: Turkey’s opposition searches for a champion | Financial Times (ft.com), 4 mai 2022

[5] (54) ERDOĞAN’IN KOZU: AHMET YENER ÇETESİ – YouTube

[6] Berlin: Türkiye’deki seçim sürecinde adil bir ortam yok – DW – 22.03.2023

[7] OSCE/ODIHR Limited Referendum Observation Mission Final Report, Warsaw, 22 June 2017, available at https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/6/2/324816.pdf

[8] https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/76656 , 21 June 2018

[9] Videos Fuel Charges of Fraud in Erdogan’s Win in Turkey Referendum – The New York Times (nytimes.com), 18 April 2017

[10] Klimek P, Jiménez R, Hidalgo M, Hinteregger A, Thurner S (2018) Forensic analysis of Turkish elections in 2017–2018. PLOS ONE 13(10): e0204975. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204975

[11] (61) ERDOĞAN SEÇİMİ BÖYLE ÇALACAK: BÜYÜK İFŞA – YouTube

letter-afghan-ambassador-endangered-lawyers
Articles & StatementsEventsHuman Rights Defenders

Letter to Afghan Ambassador for endangered lawyers

Human Rights Solidarity members protested the deteriorating situation of lawyers in Afghanistan on January 24, the Day of Endangered Lawyers. On 24th of January 2023, on the occasion of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, Human Rights Solidarity protested the deteriorating situation of the rule of law and independence of the judicial profession in front of the Afghanistan Embassy in London and delivered a letter to Ambassador Dr Zalmai Rassoul, the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Kingdom. The letter underlined the unacceptability of the deterioration of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary after the Taliban takeover in general, and of the constraints on the ability of Afghan women to access the justice system in particular.

Undersigned by Merve Aslangoren, the serving chairperson of the Human Rights Solidarity, the letter called for immediate halt to restrictions imposed on women lawyers’ work. Before the Taliban takeover, the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) had over 5,500 members, one third of which were women. After the takeover, together with the universities and all other public offices, women are barred from the legal profession. But the real danger to women lawyers comes from the criminals who have been released from jails by the Taliban, as a significant part of these criminals were put behind bars by women judges and prosecutors and are now in a hunt for revenge.

Referring to the joint statement of the Special Rapporteurs Margaret Satterthwaite, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Richard Bennett, on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the letter underlined the challenges the Afghan lawyers are facing and called both the Afghan government and the international community to action. ” By suspending the 2004 Constitution, ousting all judges from the bench, and stripping the Attorney General’s office of its key role, the Taliban has precipitated the collapse of the rule of law and judicial independence in Afghanistan”, according to the statement and since the Taliban takeover a minimum of 16 lawyers were killed by unknown individuals in Kabul and other provinces.