Human Rights Association’s 2022 report on rights violations reveals that the Republic of Turkey is not implementing its own domestic law, particularly the international conventions it has signed.
Article 90 of the Constitution recognizes international conventions to prevail over domestic law. However, the Republic of Turkey, which does not even comply with its own constitution, is, unfortunately, performing extremely poorly in terms of fundamental rights such as the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the rights to freedom of expression and association, the right to be free from discrimination.
As human rights defenders, we know very well that since the foundation of the republic, state forces have been granted impunity for crimes they committed. It is extremely regrettable to see that this policy of impunity is maintained and that the statute of limitations has become a mechanism that protects crimes committed by the state. In the last hearing of the case concerning the massacre in which 33 intellectuals and artists were burned to death in the Sivas Madımak Hotel on 2 July 1993, the policy of impunity through the statute of limitations was preferred.
Enforced disappearances under custody, which is a very alarming problem in our land, will continue as long as the perpetrators are not revealed. Unlawful bans on the Saturday Mothers’ peaceful vigils initiated by people whose relatives disappeared under custody are still in place. Thus, the policy of enforced disappearances especially seen in the 90s is still in effect.
Torture, unfortunately, continues. It is extremely sad to see that torture continues despite the fact that it is absolutely prohibited by international conventions and domestic law. The documentation of torture is another problem because the Turkish judiciary only accepts the reports of the Forensic Medicine Institute as evidence, meaning that torture can only be documented by an official expert institution, whereas the Forensic Medicine Institute is a state institution.
Forensic Medicine Institution physicians are completely subordinated to the political will and therefore the documentation of torture continues to be a major problem.
Freedom of expression and freedom of association are under severe pressure as never before. People are arrested without question for the articles they write, the speeches they make, the tweets they post, and especially Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights are constantly violated.
Many intellectuals, writers, artists, politicians who are currently imprisoned for their thoughts are being held in prison in violation of international conventions.
There are many sick prisoners with fatal diseases in prison. The release of these sick prisoners is prevented with the reports of eligibility for imprisonment by the Forensic Medicine Institution, and many sick prisoners are losing their lives in prisons.
The right to freedom of association and the right of organizations to express themselves are also under great pressure. No organization, no association, no foundation can even hold press conferences in many cities. Such press statements are prevented in an extremely unjustified manner and freedom of expression and freedom of association are under great pressure.
Violence against women continues with full force. Unfortunately, the divisive and violent hate language resorted to by the state returns to women and children as violence. Therefore, as human rights defenders, we always say that violence against women is political. Because it is not possible to discuss the violence policies implemented by the state independently from violence against women.
A great wave of hatred is being organized against LGBTI+ people and the organizers of this hatred are those who govern the state. Such hatred is organized in all areas of life and the LGBTI+ are forced to live at great peril in our land.
Economic problems affect all people very intensely, especially people who earn a living with their labor. In many areas, layoffs are commonly experienced, and the pressure on trade unions curbs their right to freedom of association and express themselves.
As human rights defenders, we have been adamant in our calls for peace for years, especially on the Kurdish issue. Because we know very well that the policy of war is stealing the bread from our tables. War and conflict not only cause tens of thousands of casualties but also damage social peace and the desire of peoples to coexist. Pro-security policies based on rejection, denial and assimilation should be abandoned, and social peace should be built through peaceful policies.
It would be extremely important to allocate the budget spent on war to peaceful policies, education, health and economy and it would offer relief to the whole country.
Even in the 90s, which was a period when human rights violations were very intense, dismissals through decree laws, which were not applied even in that period, left many families in an extremely difficult situation. Thousands of public employees have been dismissed from their jobs and virtually condemned to death together with their families, without any judicial decision, without question, through unfounded accusations such as affiliation, etc., which have no place in the law, just because of their thoughts.
İHD’s 2022 human rights violations report clearly reveals that the state’s policy towards asylum seekers is also highly discriminatory and marginalizing. Unfortunately, the Republic of Turkey has maintained geographical limitations in the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, only granting refugee status to people coming from Europe.
However, asylum seekers especially from Africa and the Middle East come to our country and continue to live in extremely poor conditions without status, and there are political parties and associations that have racist and hateful approaches towards asylum seekers. Unfortunately, the society is being exposed to an organization of hate against asylum seekers.
There are many rights violations in prisons. For years, we have been closely monitoring and trying to explain to the public that the criminal justice policy was highly discriminatory. The enforcement policy of the judiciary of the Republic of Turkey is discriminatory. Political prisoners serve a much higher proportion of their sentences than other prisoners.
This discriminatory policy in the enforcement of prison sentences has become very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread all over the world. The right to probation, which is provided to a large part of ordinary prisoners, has not been provided to political prisoners.
The earthquake of 6 February, which affected millions of people in a wide geography and caused tens of thousands of casualties, and the incidents that followed have revealed that the state does not have a permanent policy in ensuring the safety of life and property of citizens, which is one of the most basic functions of the state, as well as in search, rescue and humanitarian aid. It has been observed once again that the preference of policies based on rent and destruction of the environment instead of urbanization sensitive to natural disasters and respectful to the environment increases the destruction and loss of life caused by disasters.
While such a discriminatory, marginalizing and hate-organizing policy is being pursued in our country, a large part of the political parties that define themselves as opposition do not speak out against such cases of injustice. As we constantly express, we observe at every moment how challenging it is to struggle for human rights in a country where the government and the opposition feed from the same source.
We, as human rights defenders, would like to share with the public while we are publishing our “2022 Human Rights Violations Report” how determined we are in the struggle for human rights and that we will continue to struggle without submission.
Human Rights Association
Apıpendix: 2022 Summary Table_Human Rights Violations