Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği ”IHD”) has been founded, on 17 July 1986, by 98 human rights defenders. IHD was founded in dark period because of the military coup that had been conducted on 12 September 1980. After the military coup, there were so many violations against fundamental human rights-freedoms. For example; torture was practised in police custodies and prisons intensified; deaths were increasingly common, political parties, associations and trade unions were banned and their executives were put into prison.
The attempt to set up an association was initiated by relatives of prisoners. After about one year period, 98 people including intellectuals, writers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, architects and engineers signed the foundation petition of Human Rights Association or IHD.
Today IHD continues its struggle with 29 branches, 3 representative offices and over 10.000 members and activists. There are many activities, such as; campaigns, preparing reports and so on, during the 22 years period of IHD. These activities are carried out for many purposes. For example; abolishing death penalty and DGM (State Security Court), freedom of expression, finding disappeared persons, peace, amnesty that aims to social peace, signature campaign for persons that expelled from their positions because of “1402” article, Not to Be Silent against Torture, Equal opportunities for disabled persons etc…
Human Rights Association struggles for protecting life right, abolishing Death Penalty, finding disappeared person, prevention of execution.
IHD carries out an effective struggle against torture and within the frameworks of its activities it has founded HRFT (Turkish Human Rights Foundation) for treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims in 1990.
IHD has founded a Human Rights Academia in 2010 in order to educate its members and executives in human rights area. The Academia has branches in Ankara, Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Adana.
The Association observes violations, prepares reports for within the framework of these observations and announces them to the public as well as applies to relevant national and international institutions, organizations. Human Rights Association prepares annual reports about violations in the country. IHD carries out orientation programs, prepares brochures and posters to raise human rights consciousness in the society.
IHD conducts activities in the field of opinion and organization in all over the Turkey. Human Rights Association watches court cases and makes efforts to change the legislations.
Despite all the risks, pressures and obstacles, IHD has monitored the human rights violations, which resulted from military operations and armed conflict in the East and Southeast Regions of Turkey. IHD has followed these events and prepared reports about them and then announced to the public. The Association struggles against murders by unknown person, villages’ evacuation and extra judicial execution. IHD always defends peace under any circumstances. Human Rights Association argues that problems can be solved through democratic means and methods. Principally; IHD refuses any violence without regarding its origin. The association regards Kurd problem as one of the basic democracy and human rights problems in Turkey. IHD believes that not only Kurdish problem, but also for other language, religion, ethnic and cultural differences can be solved by means of pluralism principle of democracy.
IHD makes efforts always to provide conditions that are suitable human dignity in prisons. On the other hand, isolation and insulation in prisons are refused under any circumstances.
Human Rights Association has been subjected to incredible pressures in its struggle. 23 of our administrators and members were killed since our foundation. Mr. Akın Birdal, who is one of the former General Presidents of IHD, was shot by guns. Fortunately, he is still alive. Physical pressures have continued even after the assassination. There are many investigations and court cases against our administrators and members. IHD’s many branches were closed by the decisions of administration for a period. We are compelled to carry out our activities under pressure of investigation and court cases.
Human Rights Association is an anti-war organization. We concern about the armed conflict and wars in many countries of the world, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine etc…
IHD is a member of international human rights organizations such as FIDH (International Human Rights Federation) and EMHRN (Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network).
In the last two years, IHD conducts campaigns on ICC Status and Un Disappearance Convention to be recognized by Turkey and sick prisoners to be released in prisons in Turkey.
Principles of IHD
-IHD upholds the principle that the human rights are universal in nature and indivisible.
-IHD is a non-governmental and voluntary organization.
-IHD is not a body of any political parties or of a single political tendency.
-IHD stands up for the oppressed individual, people, nation, sex and class.
-IHD is against the death penalty at regardless of geographical location and circumstance.
-IHD is against torture regardless of the individual, the geographical location and circumstance.
-IHD defends the right to fair trail everywhere, for everyone and in any circumstances.
-IHD strongly supports the idea that the right of nations to self determination is a human right.
-IHD works are based on humanitarian law. IHD also make calls to the fighting parties for the implementation of the Geneva Conventions, especially Common Article 3 of the Convention.
-IHD defends unconditionally and without any restriction the right to freedom of expression.
-IHD similarly, defends the right to freedom of religion.
Activities on Prison Problems
-Deals extensively with prison problems since its foundation
-Shows its support-solidarity with prisoners and relatives of prisoners
Activities Against Torture
-Deals with individuals from different social spheres, who taken into police custody
-Makes efforts for people not to be subjected to torture
-Prepares reports on torture cases
-Established Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey)
Activities on Kurdish Question
-IHD is against war under any circumstances
-Refuses use of violence as a means to solve problems
-Deals with problems of displaced people on their return to original living environments
Activities on Economic and Social Rights
-IHD is sensitive towards economic and social rights
Activities on Education
-Considers that human rights education is essential
-Carries out various training programmes for its activist and members
Activities on Disables Persons
-IHD concerns disabled persons highly.
-IHD carries out activities to improve for monitoring capacity both in Human Rights Association and other Human Rights Organizations.
Prizes that were given to the Human Rights Association:
– 1989 Prize for Those at the Top by the journal “Nokta”
– 1991 Prize for Those at the Top by the journal “Nokta”
– 1991 Bruno Krensky Human Rights Prize
– 1991 Orhan Apaydin Law and Human Rights Prize
– 1995 Partners Award by the Human Rights Law Group
Murdered executives and members of IHD
Vedat Aydın (Founder member of the Diyarbakır Branch)
Sıddık Tan (Board member of the Batman Branch)
İdris Özçelik (Board member of the Urfa Branch)
Kemal Kılıç (Board member of the Urfa Branch)
Orhan Karaağar (Board member of the Van Branch)
Cemal Akar (Board member of the Erzincan Branch)
Şevket Epözdemir (Board member of the Tatvan Branch)
Metin Can (Chairman of the Elazığ Branch)
Hasan Kaya (Member of the Elazığ Branch)
Muhsin Melik (Founder member of the Urfa Branch)
İkram Mihyas (Member of the İzmir Branch)
Didar Şensoy (Member of the Istanbul Branch)
Principles of the association:
The Human Rights Association;
- is a non-governmental organisation based on volunteer participation.
- is completely independent of states, governments and political parties.
- upholds the principle that human rights are universal in nature and indivisible.
- opposes all discrimination based on race, ethnicity, language, faith, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, political or philosophical views, disability and opposes hate speech and hate crime.
- is unequivocally opposed to capital punishment regardless of geographical location and circumstance.
- is unequivocally opposed to torture regardless of the individual, geographical location and circumstances.
- upholds the right to a fair trial for everyone, regardless of geographical location and circumstance.
- promotes the right to peace and opposes war and militarism.
- defends freedom of expression unconditionally and without limitation.
- views freedom of opinion and faith as an inviolable right and defends it unconditionally and without limitation. Recognises and defends the rights of conscientious objectors.
- defends the right to freedom of association.
- fights for any individual, gender, class, people or nation under oppression, and the right of resistance against oppression and persecution.
- upholds right of peoples and nations to self determination.
- defends humanitarian law, opposes genocide under any circumstances.
- defends the right of education in one’s own language and the right to access to and provision of public services in one’s own language.
The Human Rights Association promotes and defends personal, political, economic, social, cultural rights and the right to solidarity for everyone.