İHD: Peace Right Now!





1 September 2023

1 September, the day when Germany invaded Poland starting World War II, is celebrated as World Peace Day[1] by millions of people who are against war.

Although the United Nations has not fulfilled its duty to establish world peace at the desired level, it reminded all member states that the right to peace is a human right by adopting and declaring the Declaration on the Right to Peace on 19 December 2016.  The United Nations Human Rights Council underlined that “the right to peace must be supported by all member states” with its resolution of 22 June 2017.

The demand for peace is related to civil and political rights (right to life, prohibition of torture, right to liberty and security of person, right to a fair trial, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of association, etc.) as well as economic, social and cultural rights (right to work, right to housing, right to health, right to education, language rights). Failure to establish peace in any country simultaneously violates many human rights.

The basic approach the Human Rights Association adopts is that peace is based on human rights and freedoms. All kinds of inequalities between people, denial of rights and freedoms are the main causes of wars and conflicts. İHD, therefore, believes that peace can only be built on rights and freedoms under all circumstances and everywhere in the world.

Today, as we celebrate the World Peace Day, regional and local wars and conflicts continue in many parts of the world. The ongoing war with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing great suffering, the civil war in Libya and Syria is displacing hundreds of thousands of people, Turkey’s insistence on solving the Kurdish issue with extreme pro-security policies is causing hundreds of people to lose their lives every year.

For a century since its foundation, the Republic of Turkey has pursued policies that exclude all different ethnic, religious and gender groups of society, specifically the Kurds, and has failed to establish social peace. In particular, as a result of the failure to resolve the Kurdish issue through democratic means and methods, the most fundamental human rights, especially the right to life, have been continuously and systematically violated in the conflict that has been going on for nearly 40 years. The state responded to the public demand for the recognition of fundamental rights and freedoms with excessive pro-security policies and moved away from the resolution of the issue, which led to the polarization of Turkish society. As a result of this polarization, the conflict climate of conflict in the Kurdish geography is still ongoing.

Although we, as human rights defenders, have been producing peaceful solutions and making demands against the conflict environment that has directly affected everyone’s lives in recent years, the political power continues to maintain its attitude of non-solution. Unfortunately, the environment of conflict, stalemate and war, which the state continuously promotes, also brings pressure on the society. Freedom of association and freedom of expression are under great pressure. People are being sentenced by the judiciary, arrested and put in prisons just for expressing their opinions. Freedom of association is violated like never before.  Kurdish civilian politicians, human rights defenders, journalists, artists and many others are imprisoned or forced to leave the country simply because they think differently from the state.

The established militarist structure in Turkey continues to exist, albeit with different actors. When we think of militarism, we should not only think of military units and ideas. We see that discrimination and marginalization also impose hierarchy and obedience in social relations, which leads to the further militarization of society and the rise of racism and nationalism. In the 2023 parliamentary and presidential elections, the fact that opposition political parties used the same language of violence as the government while determining and expressing their policies returned as violence to marginalized groups, especially women, LGBTI+ persons and asylum seekers. The solution and only option to the reality of unlimited and countless violations produced by discriminatory practices and policies of violence is policies for peace.

Another area affected by the state’s policy of deadlock in the Kurdish issue is the economy.  While a large section of the society lives below the hunger threshold, billions of dollars are spent on policies of war. There is no doubt that spending security and war costs, which is one of the most important effects of the economic crisis that has been going on in Turkey for a long time, in line with the needs of citizens would increase the welfare level of the society. In addition, the conflict that resumed after 2015 and the state of emergency regime that was declared after the 2016 coup attempt and the violations against freedom of expression and freedom of association brought along dismissals from work with decree laws. Thousands of people were dismissed from their jobs and their right to work was taken away. Today, thousands of people who have not been convicted of any offence are still unable to return to public office and are trying to survive in unhealthy conditions with their families.

As human rights defenders, on the occasion of the World Peace Day on 1 September, we once again loudly express our desire for peace. We call on the government to implement peaceful policies based on human rights and to abandon the policy of isolation imposed on Turkey’s social peace in order to end racism, nationalism, marginalization and hate language imposed on society. As human rights defenders, we proclaim that we will continue to struggle until peace is established.








[1] UN International Day of Peace is observed around the World on 21 September.