PEACE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
WE DEMAND PEACE!
THE DEMAND FOR PEACE IS A DEMAND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY!
Human Rights Association (IHD) would like to reiterate once again that we want to live in a world dominated by peace on the occasion of September 1 World Peace Day. The right to peace is a human right. It is one of the rights to solidarity.
The United Nations was founded by the UN Charter that was adopted and proclaimed in 1945. The Preamble and Chapter I of the Charter underline that the purpose of the United Nations is to promote respect for peace and human rights and freedoms. The opening Article and Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was drafted by the UN Human Rights Commission and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, emphasize the requirement that peace, and the international and national social orders upon which peace shall be founded need to be based on the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration. The UN General Assembly approved and proclaimed the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace through resolution 39/11 of November 12, 1984. The declaration stresses the sacred right to peace and the fact that to ensure the preservation and implementation of this right constitutes a fundamental obligation of each state.
The demand for peace is not only related to civil and political rights (the right to life, ban on torture, the right to personal freedom and security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of association, etc.) but is also related to economic, social, and cultural rights (right to work, right to housing, right to health, right to education, linguistic rights). IHD acknowledges human rights as universal, inalienable, holistic, indivisible, and interdependent. Moreover, Article I of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights both proclaim that peoples’ right of self-determination is a human right. Turkey has been a State Party to these covenants since 2003. Secondly, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights bases human rights within a broader framework and recognizes peoples’ rights, alongside with the rights of individuals and civil rights, as “human rights” as well. Therefore, human rights are not only individuals’ rights but also peoples’ rights.
The main approach found in these texts, which IHD also adopts and shares, is concerned with the fact that peace is based on human rights and freedoms. The economic, social, and other kinds of inequalities found among people, the failure to observe rights and freedoms are the main causes of wars and conflicts. Thus, IHD believes that peace can be achieved based on rights and freedoms under all circumstances and everywhere in the world. It is observed that demands for rights and freedom generally lay at the foundation of conflicts in all the conflict zones in the world.
Turkey has a pluralistic ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural structure. A perspective founded upon human beings and nature necessitates that legal reforms should also reflect this pluralistic structure based on rights. Pluralism finds its expression in the slogan “Everyone is different, everyone is equal” underlined and reflected by IHD many times. Pluralism is, at the same time, the foundation of democracy. IHD is of the opinion that there is an inseverable bond between democracy and human rights. Therefore, IHD has been underlining that the main problem in Turkey was a human rights and democracy problem while identifying the most significant component of this main problem as the Kurdish issue.
TURKEY HAS A PEACE PROBLEM
Turkey is a country that has not been able to solve its main problems like the Kurdish issue by utilizing conflict resolution methods based on dialogue and negotiation as has been observed in many countries in the world. Consequently, armed conflict continues both in the country and abroad.
The state of armed conflict brought about by the failure to find a solution to the Kurdish problem affects all areas in life. The current economic crisis in Turkey cannot be explained by disregarding this environment of conflict witnessed in the Kurdish issue. The economic cost of military actions that the state conducts both within the country and abroad (Syria and Iraq) in order to main this state of armed conflict and war is rather high and this overstrains Turkey’s budget. Turkey has been engaged in a state of armed conflict for a very long time. The years between 2013 and 2015, referred to as the peace and resolution process, signify a period of peace created by non-aggression for the society in Turkey. Thousands of people, however, have been killed and injured in armed conflicts within the last three years.
According to the data collected by IHD, 2,770 individuals (soldiers, police officers, village guards, armed militants, and civilians) were killed while 2,400 individuals were injured in 2015, 2016, and 2017. While 916 individuals were killed in extrajudicial executions, 1,071 individuals were injured in all Turkey in 2015, 2016, and 2017 under the influence of this environment of armed conflict. The number of individuals who were attacked and killed without the perpetrators known, notably attacks by illegal organizations, was 614, while the number of those who were injured in such attacks was 3,529 during the same period. When one adds these numbers up, it is seen that 4,300 individuals were killed while 7,000 individuals were injured. This is a manifestation that gross human rights and humanitarian law violations have taken place.
The statements by the officials, on the other hand, demonstrate the fact that the situation is even direr than it seems.
According to the data provided by the Documentation Center at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, a minimum number of 314 curfews, which could have been officially confirmed, have been declared in a total of 11 cities and 49 districts within the period between August 16, 2015 when the curfews were initiated for an indefinite period of time (with an open-ended termination date) and/or around-the-clock (prescribed to last for 24 hours) and June 1, 2018. The consequences of the state of armed conflict in the cities, provinces, and the rural areas where the curfews were initiated on August 16, 2015 and are still in effect have been considerably grave. Hundreds of civilians were killed alongside with about 500 thousand people forcibly displaced because of the destroyed residential areas.
As the Kurdish issue could not be solved, the military operations conducted by Turkey within the country extended to interventions in Syria also culminating in an intervention in the Syrian city of Afrin following the one in Jarabulus-Azaz. The international community, including the UN, knows that many civilians were killed during the military intervention against Afrin that started in January 2018 and ended in March 2018. Furthermore, Turkey still has a large number of military bases in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Federal Region and has been continuously conducting military operations. No reliable information can be obtained about the loss of lives there. As is seen, the war zone increasingly expands in the case that the Kurdish issue remains unresolved. This is unsustainable in humanitarian and financial ways.
The causes of conflict should be eliminated for permanent peace. The first step that should be taken towards implementing permanent peace is to put an end to conflicts, to enable dialogue paths remain open, and to provide an opportunity for a resolution based on human rights and democracy. To begin with, the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan held in İmralı Prison should be ended and a dialogue should be reinitiated.
The conditions under which the administrative system in Turkey has become authoritarian should be eliminated and the path to a new social contract based on democracy and human rights is led by peace and by promoting peace.
IHD will persevere in its struggle for human rights for a life dominated by peace in our country as well as the world.
Human Rights Association
 September 1 marks the World Day of Peace in Turkey in spite of the fact that September 21 is observed around the world as the International Day of Peace.