Turkey is a country which is a party to many contracts adopted and proclaimed by the UN Community, as well as to the UN Social Contract and Universal Deceleration of Human Rights. Turkey, being a member state of the Council of Europe, has also appropriated the protection of human rights, the priority of the rule of law and the establishment of democracy together with its all institutions and principles. Turkey has adopted the Helsinki Final Act, The Charter of Paris within the process of the CSCE, The Moscow Document, the Final Deceleration of the Vienna Conference and lastly the Final Act of Budapest.
However, Turkey has not been able to establish a system of law based on the human rights and fundamental freedoms stated in these instruments. Turkey, in terms of legislation, enforcement and jurisdiction which bring about human rights violations in this country, has not put considerable regulations into force.
Turkey has not been able to make its system dependent upon the human rights standards and the norms of law, of the Communities of which it is a member state. Fundamental rights and freedoms, especially the right to life, are excessively being violated in Turkey. The source of these violations is the Constitution and the codes put into force after the military coup which was experienced 15 years ago.
Despite the fact that the death penalty has still been included in 52 separate codes, no execution has been perpetrated since 1984. However, the right to life has systematically been exterminated through tortures, disappearances under detention, extrajudicial executions and suspicious murders. Human rights violations are increasing by day. No positive step has been taken by the government, which took power three years ago with the promises of democratization and human rights. On the contrary, one can mention about a recession. Only 3 of some 259 draft laws which came into force during this period can be regarded as the steps for the benefit of democratization process. Whereas these codes are not fair and egalitarian and have not been able to be applied until now.
While the figure for the deaths by torture and extrajudicial executions in 1993 was 160, this figure is 298 in 1994 and more than 1000 torture cases have been experienced during this year. While some 32 persons were disappeared under detention during 1993, this figure is 328 in 1994. The figure for the suspicious murders was 510 in 1993; it is 292 in 1994. Some 1209 people were killed by unidentified offenders within last 3 years. Some 260 journal and newspaper issues were confiscated in 1993; this figure is 450 in 1994. The number of the burned and evacuated villages was 874 in 1993. In 1994 some 1494 villages or hamlets were burned and evacuated. There are severe oppressions, threats and bans on the freedom of written and verbal expression of opinions, which constitute the most essential element of the rights and freedoms.
There are, presently, some 152 codes which restrict the freedom of expression and of press. Last month (December 1994), the figure for the politicians, scholars, writers, journalists and the leading people of various democratically mass organizations in prison was 118. This month (January 1995) this figure reached 143. There are some 2139 persons who are convicted because their opinions have been deemed criminal and now they are waiting for the order of the Court of Appeals. There are presently more than 5600 persons who are being tried due to the same reasons. Within recent times the concept of human rights has transferred into people’s rights. Rights and freedoms of minorities and ethnic groups have acquired priority. Thus, human rights struggle has gained new dimensions after all these facts. The Human Rights Association, which appropriates principle of the equal enjoyment of the rights and freedoms for every individual and does not make distinction of any kind, such as language, religion, sex, political view, ethnical origin or any other status, has taken this fact into consideration. The rights of the oppressed individuals, oppressed sex, oppressed class and peoples are prior concerns of the Human Rights Association. That is why the rights and freedoms of the Kurdish people are in the agenda of the Human Rights Association. Kurdish people are deprived of the opportunity to express what they wish or the way of living they want. Kurdish people are being tried to be taken away from their identity. They are not allowed to speak their own language and to carry out activities by utilizing their culture. They are not only deprived of civil and political rights and freedoms but also of the economic, social and cultural rights.
The failure in the solution of the Kurdish Question or, in other words, seeking for a military solution made this question transformed into the question of Turkish people, as well. Since no democratically or peaceful step has been taken to solve the question, solution for this question seems to be getting more difficult by day. Human rights defenders and monitors are under severe oppression and threat in Turkey. Within last 3 years, 11 human rights defenders have been killed. Even though there is not any court order, our 14 Branches and 7 Representations in Eastern and Southeastern Turkey have been rendered ineffective due to the oppression perpetrated by the security forces. That is why; there have been left no opportunity to carry out surveyor investigation of any kind in this region. Diyarbakir Branch was the only office which has been carrying out activities, however, arrest verdicts have been issued against all the board members of this branch and many of them have been put in jail ~or they published a Report comprising the human rights violations in the region. Many officials from the Headquarters of the HRA, as well as many Chairmen and officials from several branches are presently being tried. The number of our officials who are in prison due to their speeches or articles rises up by day.
Since the human rights, in Turkey, have been remained defenseless and unprotected, there has appeared a serious question of regime. Military Forces have not abandoned the civilian life yet, and this fact is the basic source of all these questions. Democracy and peace are under threat. We make a call in order that you pay heed to Turkey. This is not only because we are colleagues, this is because this world is ours. We should urge the Governments to implement the responsibilities which derive from the contracts they are party to.
The establishment of human rights in Turkey cannot be bound up with the discussion of Turkey’s Customs Union membership. However, if Turkey will be a member of the European Union, it should make its system appropriate with the human rights standards and the norms of law of the European Union.
We must be insistent in this direction. We wish every individual spend a life suitable for human dignity. Peoples need our efforts to be able to live in peace. Our call is for the benefit of the people of Turkey and of the world.