IHD’s 19th Ordinary General Assembly was held on 3-4 November 2018 in Ankara.
IHD’s Honorary Co-Chair Mr. Akın Birdal served as the president of the council at the two-day general assembly. The assembly was conducted in a vibrant atmosphere thanks to IHD delegates and with the participation of Mr. Dimitris Christopoulos, the President of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, the President of Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EuroMed Rights), both of which IHD is a member. Both Mr. Christopoulos and Mr. Al-Asmar addressed the assembly offering insightful and comprehensive assessments on human rights. Many deputies, representatives from political parties, foreign missions, labor organizations, local and international NGOs, and human rights activists attended the assembly as well.
The following final declaration was drafted based on the points underlined and suggestions offered by the co-chairs of the association, guests, and delegates.
Although the UN and the Council of Europe were established by a system based on human rights and democracy, human rights have been witnessing a corrosion and have been instrumentalized along with facing threats posed by the continuing economic crises, armed conflict and war within the intervening 70 years since their establishment.
It has also been ascertained that the dire straits in the world have elevated the number of asylum-seekers/refugees/migrants, that the rights of these persons have become a matter of negotiation which, in turn, specifically contributed to the instrumentalization of human rights, and that the insufficiency and shortcomings of the UN and CoE systems have become apparent with regards to the universality of human rights and their subjection to international protection.
It has been observed that such setbacks in the world enhanced the negative state of affairs in Turkey, that the problem of human rights and democracy increasingly deteriorated in Turkey, that Turkey has been moving away from solving its fundamental problems, gradually steering to authoritarianism. Since Turkey failed to solve its Kurdish issue, it was not able to achieve any genuine conflict resolution which, in the end, hindered its democratization and moved towards the opposite direction, and transitioned to an authoritarian presidency model based on the rule of a single-person which, in turn, constantly gave way to rights violations.
Not only Turkey’s regime has become more authoritarian in this atmosphere of constant armed conflict and war, but also has the country entered into a phase during which serious setbacks were witnessed in economic and social rights which, in turn, gave way to an increase in unemployment and poverty and increased pressure on labor organizations that sought to struggle against these.
In spite of the fact that the coup d’état attempt of 15 July 2016 opposed by the entire community in Turkey was quenched, the political power staged a counter-coup and declared state of emergency and ruled Turkey under the SoE for two years having rendered the Constitutional regime a de facto SoE regime extending the SoE for another three years through Law No. 7145 and maintained gross human rights violations brought about by the SoE.
The political power has constantly been producing violations in each point within the human rights field with its practices, has virtually destroyed freedom of expression which constitutes the basis of democracy; has been subjecting social dissidence, notably journalists and dissident political parties, to judicial harassment; has been repressing the society constantly threatening it with terrorism under the guise of anti-terrorism campaigns which enabled it to unlawfully keep many persons in prison, and the conditions in prisons got increasingly deteriorated.
Findings, opinions, and suggestions have been offered below based upon above-mentioned points;
- IHD calls on the political power to change its policy to build a new peace process by ending the environment of armed conflict and war that it maintains regarding the Kurdish issue; reminds it of the fact that human rights defenders would defend and promote peace under all circumstances and work for peace,
- The political power should change its Middle Eastern policy and adopt peaceful policies for the ending of civil war in Syria and enabling internal stability in Iraq in line with the principle of the right to self-determination of peoples, and should withdraw its military presence there,
- Turkey should enter into a phase of genuine confrontation with its past to which the society should be included in order to build a new peace process,
- Calls on the international community, reminding it of the World Kobanê Day, to provide for the prosecution of gross human rights and humanitarian law violations within the scope of crimes against humanity and genocide crimes perpetrated by jihadist mob structures both in the Middle East and in Turkey which were forced to lose ground by the struggle of notably the Kurdish people and Middle Eastern peoples against ISIS/DAESH.
- The policy of impunity in Turkey should be put to an end and a new judicial structure based on the rule of law should be established, thus, steps should be taken in order to reinstitute trust in justice,
- A more efficient struggle should be taken on in solidarity with Alawite organizations in order to secure Alawis’ demands for equal citizenship,
- Struggle should resolutely be maintained in solidarity with anti-discrimination organizations, notably those that work for LGBTI rights and against hate murders in the face of discriminatory practices by the political power,
- The lifting of the ban on Saturday Mothers’ and Peace Mothers’ long-lasting vigils seeking justice and apologizing from the mothers,
- The immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş and his friends, notably Leyla Güven who still is a member of the parliament,
- The administration of municipalities, which represents the will of the Kurdish people, be returned to the elected officials upon the lifting of the state appointed trustees; the immediate release of Gültan Kışanak and friends,
- Enabling the reinstatement of public employees previously dismissed from their jobs via SoE decree-laws; withdrawal of a bill currently at the GNAT introducing a ban on working in the private sector for dismissed medical doctors and dentists; ending “civic death” forced on about 150 thousand people with the SoE,
- Efficient initiatives be taken in order to promote and protect human rights in the international field notably with international human rights bodies based on the fact that human rights are under threat; reminding the UN, CoE, and the EU of their human rights commitments,
- Acknowledgment of the human rights of refugees/asylum-seekers and immigrants, ending policy-making over these individuals,
- Release of all jailed journalists, intellectuals and authors, notably Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak,
- Immediate release of human rights defenders in the persons of Osman Kavala, Hasan Ceylan and Özgür Ateş and jailed lawyers in the person of Selçuk Kozağaçlı,
- Amnesty for all except for crimes against humanity,
- Immediate release of critically sick inmates in prisons, ending the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan,
- Engaging in a struggle for democracy through meeting on a common ground of all social segments for human rights and democracy,
- Prioritizing the struggle for economic and social rights for human rights defenders as well in the face of severe devastation brought about by poverty created by the setbacks in economic and social rights,
- Engaging in a stronger struggle against violence, notably violence against women,
- Working to make the rights of children acknowledged as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, protecting children against militarism, assimilation, and racism,
- Acknowledgment of the right to conscientious objection against militarism,
- Utilization of new means and methods in order to promote human rights in a more competent manner; IHD to conduct workshops with an eye to diversify methods of struggle,
- Taking initiatives to widen the scope of IHD’s organization skills both at home and abroad,
- Initiating IHD awards for human rights activists.