Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği ”IHD”) was founded on 17 July 1986 by 98 human rights defenders. IHD was founded in dark times brought about by the military coup d’état of 12 September 1980. After the military coup, there were so many violations against fundamental human rights and freedoms. For example; acts of torture committed under police custody and in prisons intensified; deaths became 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 the relatives of prisoners. After about a year, 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. IHD has undertaken many activities, such as; campaigns, preparing reports and the like for the last 22 years. These activities have been carried out for many purposes. For example; to abolish the death penalty and DGM (State Security Court), freedom of expression, finding the forcibly disappeared persons, peace, amnesty aiming to achieve social peace, signature campaigns for persons who were dismissed from their positions because of Article “1402”, speak out against Torture, Equal opportunities for disabled persons etc…
Human Rights Association struggles to protect the right to life, to abolish capital punishment, to find forcibly disappeared persons, to prevent executions.
IHD carries out an effective struggle against torture and, within the scope of its activities, it has founded HRFT (Turkish Human Rights Foundation) for the treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims in 1990.
IHD has also founded a Human Rights Academia in 2010 in order to train its members and executives in the field of human rights. The Academia has branches in Ankara, Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Adana.
IHD observes violations, prepares reports within the framework of these observations and announces them to the public as well as lodging applications to relevant national and international institutions and organizations. Human Rights Association prepares annual reports about rights 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 all over Turkey. Human Rights Association follows court cases and makes efforts to realize legal reforms.
Despite all the risks, pressures and obstacles, IHD has monitored human rights violations, which resulted from military operations and armed conflict in the Eastern and South-eastern Regions of Turkey. IHD has followed these incidents and prepared reports about them and then announced its findings to the public. The Association struggles to put an end to murders by unknown assailants, village evacuations and extra-judicial executions. IHD always defends peace under any circumstances. Human Rights Association argues that problems can be solved through democratic means and methods. Principally, IHD refuses all kinds of violence regardless of its origin. The association regards the Kurdish problem as one of the basic democracy and human rights problems in Turkey. IHD believes that not only the Kurdish problem, but also other linguistic, religious, ethnic and cultural issues can be solved by means of the pluralism principle of democracy.
IHD makes efforts always to provide conditions appropriate for human dignity in prisons. Moreover, isolation and insulation in prisons are refused under any circumstances.
Human Rights Association has been subjected to incredible pressures in its struggle. 23 of its executives and members have been killed since its foundation. Former IHD chairperson Mr. Akın Birdal barely survived an assassination attempt in 1998. Physical pressures have continued even after the assassination. There are many investigations and court cases against our executives and members. Many IHD branches were closed down by the administration for a period. We are compelled to carry out our activities under the pressure of investigations and court cases.
Human Rights Association is an anti-war organization. We are concerned about armed conflicts 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 has conducted campaigns on the ICC Status and the UN Disappearance Convention to be recognized by Turkey and sick prisoners to be released from prisons in Turkey.
Principles of IHD
-IHD upholds the principle that human rights are universal in nature and indivisible.
-IHD is a non-governmental and voluntary organization.
-IHD is not a body of any political party or of a single political tendency.
-IHD stands up for oppressed individuals, peoples, nations, genders and classes.
-IHD is against the death penalty regardless of geographical location and circumstance.
-IHD is against torture regardless of the individual, geographical location and circumstance.
-IHD defends the right to a fair trial everywhere, for everyone and under any circumstance.
-IHD strongly supports the idea that the right of nations to self-determination is a human right.
-IHD’s endeavors are based on humanitarian law. IHD also calls on the fighting parties for the implementation of the Geneva Convention, 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 Problems in Prisons
-Deals extensively with problems in prisons since its foundation
-Supports and acts in solidarity with prisoners and relatives of prisoners
Activities Against Torture
-Deals with individuals from different social spheres who are taken under police custody
-Struggles to prevent individuals from being subjected to torture
-Prepares reports on torture cases
-Established Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey)
Activities on the Kurdish Question
-IHD is against war under any circumstances
-Refuses the use of violence as a means to solve problems
-Deals with the problems of displaced people on their return to their 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 programs for its activists and members
Activities on Disabled Persons
-IHD concerns disabled persons highly.
-IHD carries out activities to improve the monitoring capacity both in Human Rights Association and other human rights bodies.
Prizes that were presented 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 circumstance.
- 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.