İHD is 33 Years Old: Our Struggle for Human Rights, Democracy and Peace Perseveres
Human Rights Association was founded on 17 July 1986 by 98 human rights defenders. The founding objective of the association was formulized as “promoting human rights and freedoms” and this statement made its way to İHD’s Charter as well. Among the founding members were prisoners’ relatives, intellectuals, authors, journalists, publishers, academics, lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers, teachers. We cherish and remember our founding members who have passed on with gratitude and love.
İHD has been stating since its inception that Turkey had a democracy and human rights problem and has been endeavoring to contribute to the resolution of this problem. Such struggle by İHD offered significant contributions to the formation of a human rights consciousness and culture in Turkey.
One of the most important goals of our struggle for human rights and democracy was to contribute to drafting a new and democratic constitution based on the rejection of the Constitution of 1982. Turkey, however, has moved on to an even more anti-democratic constitutional regime instead of democratization as it has not been able to solve its fundamental problems. The most conspicuous feature of this system, referred to as the presidential governance system, is its anti-democratic character.
The gross destruction brought about by the failure to solve the Kurdish issue, which is Turkey’s most significant problem, still persists. İHD has always defended and will always defend the right to peace. We would once again like to reiterate that a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue remains an indispensable requirement for Turkey’s democratization.
There are many points one can make about the major setbacks in Turkey’s democracy and human rights field. We would, at the same time, like to offer some important recommendations and demands on our 33rd year in our continuous struggle for human rights. We have basically been reiterating our recommendations on this issue each year.
- Turkey needs to materialize a genuine conflict resolution and confront its past in order to democratize itself. Turkey needs a new peace process that will acknowledge and resolve the Kurdish issue. Further, it needs a new political will that will recognize the human rights demands of all otherized social groups, particularly Alawis’ demand for the right to equal citizenship.
- Along with a genuine conflict resolution, Turkey needs a new and democratic constitution. Unless a new and democratic constitution is drafted, amendments introduced to the Constitution of 1982 drafted by the generals of the coup d’état will fail to offer any kind of solution whatsoever. Currently the obvious feature of the changes referred to as the presidential governance model is that they boil down to an anti-democratic single-man government.
- Freedom of expression is the foundation of democracy. In order to make way for democracy, freedom of expression should absolutely be secured. Paving the way for democracy does not seem possible unless freedom of thought and freedom of the press are guaranteed.
- We would like to underline that the prevention of all violations, notably those brought about by violations in gender equality, along with policies and practices that produce all kinds of discrimination is indispensable. Our struggle to end all kinds of discrimination will continue non-stop.
- Elections held in Turkey within the last two years have shown that there is indeed a social dissidence for democracy, human rights and peace. Should this social dissidence take on a united front on the largest basis possible based on the principles of democracy and human rights, Turkey’s democratization can be realized through social struggle. We, as human rights defenders, are engaged in this struggle.
- The significance of the principle of separation of powers reveals itself in independent and impartial judiciary. Justice cannot be served without a judicial structure in line with the principle of rule of law. Constitutional amendments based on the principle of separation of powers should be introduced in order to materialize the judicial reform strategy announced by the political power.
- One of the most important problems of Turkey is the failure to eliminate the mob structures within the state. After the counter-guerilla, the fact that Fethullah Gülen organization has existed within the state amounting to staging a military coup has unearthed how alarming is the danger. Yet, democratic government is a must to prevent the formation of new illegal structures replacing the eliminated ones. That being said, the policy and culture of impunity should be put to an end and the protection of public officials who commit offenses should be renounced.
- Setbacks in economic and social rights have been gradually increasing with authoritarianization, which is insisted on in order not to grant workers and laborers their rights. Struggle for economic and social rights should take on a fresh impetus during this term as well.
- The fact that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of practices infringing upon the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, particularly after the declaration of the state of emergency has been documented in our reports. Similarly, enforced disappearance cases have returned as well. The policy of impunity prevents the initiation of investigations into such violations. This policy of impunity should be put to an end and effective, comprehensive and independent administrative and judicial investigations should be conducted.
- The political power has maintained the state of emergency, which it declared in spite of the quenching of the attempted coup d’état, for two years and it virtually extended the state of emergency for another three years by introducing Law No. 7145. All unfair and unlawful practices, particularly dismissals from public office during the state of emergency, should be revoked and the legislation should be reviewed in order to rule out the effects of the state of emergency and normalization should begin. One should remember that the ones who suffered during the state of emergency are purely and simply the fundamental rights and freedoms and those who exercise their rights to these freedoms.
- İHD’s and human rights defenders’ right to promote human rights should be acknowledged. The policy of repression through judicial harassment on human rights defenders should be stopped.
Human rights defenders’ 33-year-long struggle founded upon the demands for freedom, equality, justice and peace based on human dignity under İHD’s umbrella will persevere and the struggle to restore a democratic regime for Turkey will not end.
Human Rights Association