One of the most alarming actions of the Turkish authorities is the incarceration of women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Some are incarcerated with their children and others violently separated from them. At this moment, seven hundred forty-three (743) children under the age of six are in jails across Turkey with their mothers, detained or arrested as part of the government crackdown on its dissidents. One hundred forty-nine (149) of these children are infants under a year old. “This is simply outrageous, utterly cruel, and surely cannot have anything whatsoever to do with making the country safer” as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein” also emphasized.
Co-Chair of pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) pointed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as someone who pulled the strings behind a massive crackdown that targeted more than a 100 politicians and journalists in the latest wave last week.
In simultaneous raids, the Turkish police raided offices and houses of tens of politicians linked with HDP and a group of journalists in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and other cities. The clampdown has aroused international and national criticism.
Sezai Temelli accused Erdogan of giving the order for the latest move that inflicted a new blow to the party already bleeding in the face of incessant waves of the crackdown. Former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were imprisoned in late 2016 and are still in jail over terrorism charges. Thousands of party members have been jailed over similar charges.
This week saw another phase. The Turkish government has already taken over the administrations of more than 100 Kurdish-run municipalities. The president has repeatedly shown no signs of backing down and signaled a further escalation of crackdown amid armed clashes between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces.
A fragile truce between the PKK and the Turkish military collapsed in 2015 and renewed urban fighting gave Erdogan additional tools and excuse to crack down on the Kurdish political party which he portrays as the political wing of the armed militants.
The HDP rejects such blanket definitions and refuses association with PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state since the early 1980s to carve out an autonomous zone for self-governance in southeastern Turkey.
A round of peace negotiations in 2015 came to an abrupt end when Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in Parliament in June 7 elections. When Demirtas cruised HDP to Parliament after an upsetting electoral victory that denied AKP the chance to form another single-party government. HDP’s unexpected triumph appeared to be a turning point after the president altered his policy course regarding the Kurdish conflict and adopted a security-first approach to resolving the decades-old issue.
The military solution, although tried during countless different governments over the past four decades, has ultimately proved to be elusive and untenable. The latest bout of violence reduced cities to rubble in many parts of southeastern Turkey, leading to the displacement of nearly half a million people. Both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations well documented the scale of devastation that swept the entire region, revealing the scope of its social and economic cost in fullest form.
Mehmet Ozbir, 41, died of cancer shortly after he was released in prison, adding to an already growing toll of deaths took place when authorities refused to released terminally ill prisoners in the aftermath of the 2016 coup.
The health condition of Ozbir, a businessman of modest scale from Alasehir district in the western province of Manisa, steadily worsened in recent months. He was imprisoned as part of a sweeping crackdown on people affiliated with Gulen Movement in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
The businessman was imprisoned in pretrial detention for 17 months before his release. The denial of proper medical treatment and the refusal by authorities to release him on time only exacerbated his situation.
One of his arms was amputated because the medical treatment was provided so late. When his health state worsened, the prison officials agreed to his release to avoid any responsibility in the case of his death.
Despite efforts by doctors in recent weeks, Ozbir succumbed to worsening cancer in the hospital.
His death reveals an acute problem in Turkish prisons. There are tens of people who died because of denial of access to medical treatment in prison. Ozbir’s case is only the latest example in this regard.
Ozbir was imprisoned over an anonymous tip and for his membership in ASIAD, a non-profit business organization affiliated with Gulen Movement in Alasehir.
The disappearance or alleged murder of a critical Saudi journalist in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has created shockwaves across the world and sent a chilling echo for other Saudi dissidents across the region.
According to the Turkish authorities, Jamal Khashoggi has been killed by Saudi agents and his body was dismembered. Riyadh has categorically denied those allegations and pledged to work with the Turkish officials for a robust and thorough investigation to enlighten the incident.
The international community, already dismayed and alarmed by acts of the increasing violence against members of the media world, is, quite understandably, rattled by the startling case of Khashoggi. And it came after INTERPOL’s Chinese president’s arrest in China, adding a new layer of anxiety over the international fallout of domestic political score-settling.
If the Turkish claims about murder are true, it represents completely a new phase in the crackdown on critical journalists. The venue of the incident, a consulate, serves as a stark reminder for dissidents living abroad about the stakes of any form of engagement or contact with an official body of their home country. No critic would feel safe to enter a consulate or a diplomatic compound of a given country, without having second thoughts after the Khashoggi incident.
The Turkish government appeared appalled and therefore reacted in indignation against the Saudi act breaching diplomatic norms in blatant disregard of the friendly relationship that mostly defined the nature of bilateral ties between the two powers of the Middle East.
Still, the case remains to be a matter of puzzling mystery, with both Turkish and Saudi sides lacking credibility to bolster their narratives. While pro-government media and some anonymous Turkish security sources were quick to squarely pin the blame on the Kingdom, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has struck a measured and cautious tone, refraining from finger-pointing at Riyadh.
Khashoggi was last seen on Saturday. His fiancee Hatice Cengiz told media that he went to the Consulate but never showed up again. The Turkish media released video footage of a group of people believed to be Saudi agents were specifically assigned by Riyadh to kill and remove the journalist’s body. But the Turkish authorities did never offer evidence to back up their claims, while the Saudi side also stumbled in its account of the story by failing to prove Khashoggi’s departure from the Consulate via camera footage.
The issue has expectedly unsettled Turkey’s political landscape and created an uproar. But,
considering Turkey’s own dismal record in mind, Ankara’s concerns for morality and norms ring hollow and seem self-contradictory. Steven Cook, writing for Foreign Policy, addressed such moral contradictions in a recent op-ed.
Not long ago, Turkey’s intelligence operatives, in cooperation with local security agency, conducted a bold operation in Moldova to snatch a group of teachers linked with a civil society movement critical of President Erdogan’s rule.
Here a question emerges. Where did the Saudi regime get such confidence to push the boundaries of handling with critics with that extreme path? The question appears more pertinent after bearing Turkey’s similar operations in mind. It is no exaggeration, after all, to meditate that it was Ankara’s brutal clampdown on opponents at home and abroad with all means available that would have encouraged Riyadh to execute the murder or steered the disappearance act in its consulate in Turkey, but not somewhere else.
In this respect, Turkey’s own practices might plausibly have emboldened Saudi Arabia. Turkey used its own embassy in Kosovo to spirit Gulen-affiliated teachers away from the country. Similar methods also took place in Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia and Gabon where Turkey’s diplomatic compounds served as launchpads for conducting operations. Both Ankara’s use of its diplomatic facilities as a cover to disguise its intelligence operations and the disappearance of a journalist in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul mark a new step in countries’ zealous haunt for critics living abroad.
For dissidents, as Cook and all other commentators opined, the message is disheartening and worrisome. Nowhere is safe for free-minded and critical people. The whole world, especially the Western countries with strong democratic traditions, must lend additional voice to condemn, denounce and criticize the disappearance of the Saudi journalist at a diplomatic compound.
Unless the whole world unites in their strong condemnation, the Istanbul incident would set a terrible precedent for future behaviors of autocratic governments in dealing with dissident citizens abroad.
In conclusion, an act of crackdown, overseas operations to target dissidents abroad and the use of diplomatic compounds for such operations would no doubt set an example or a source of inspiration for other authoritarian regimes to follow through. In Istanbul, all contours of such a possibility were abundantly present and pointed. To stop this learning process through copy-past practices from one another’s authoritarian playbook, a collective international response and cooperation is a must, and a long overdue effort that is urgently needed to be employed.
Download as pdf: AST_Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly_Feb 19
Turkey’s Human Rights Violations | 2/12/2018-2/19/2018
1-“Turkey detained 666 people so far for opposing Afrin operation: data”
2-“568 people detained over Gülen links in past week: gov’t”
3-“UK-educated computer science professor, jailed for 13 months, dies of liver cancer”
4-“Turkish court sentences wife of alleged coup plotter to 18 years in prison”
5-“Turkey now demands 10 years for pro-Kurdish HDP co-chairperson”
6-“Turkey hands down prison sentences to 205 alleged coup plotters in Ankara: report”
7-“Teacher, 2 children dead, 5 others missing in attempt to escape Turkey’s post-coup crackdown”
8-“Purge-victim architect detained for refusing to stand for Turkey’s national anthem: report”
9-“Opposition deputy gets 5 years, 10 months in prison: report”
10-“73-year old human rights advocate detained for opposing Turkey’s Afrin operation: son”
11-“Turkish police raid pro-Kurdish publishing house in Diyarbakır: report”
12-“24-year-old Boğaziçi University student arrested over Gülen links”
13-“7 executives from exporters’ union under custody for depositing money in Bank Asya”
14-“[VIDEO] Warrants issued for 9 more Boydak family members: 6 detained”
15-“Folk band Grup Yorum members in ‘wanted terrorists’ list”
16-“Turkey’s top appeal court says Bank Asya depositors ‘terrorist’”
17-“Education Ministry cancels licenses of 1,272 educators on terror charges: report”
18-“8,480 Turkish nationals sought asylum in Germany in 2017: report”
19-“Turkish judicial board suspends another 17 judges, prosecutors”
20-“Turkey’s judiciary must protect rule of law, says Europe diplomat”
21-“Turkey blocks access to Furkan news portal on terror charges”
22-“HDP deputy to be stripped of parliamentary status for insulting Erdoğan”
23-“CoE’s Jagland criticizes Turkish gov’t over human rights violations”
24-“Yücel: I was released with a ruling ordering me to stay in prison”
25-“OSCE, UN representatives: Life sentences for Turkish journalists an attack on freedom of expression”
26-“6 journalists including Altan brothers given aggravated life sentences”
27-“Slain general’s widow sentenced to 18 years”
28-“US politician describes her visit to Turkish refugees in Greece”
29-“EP’s Harms to visit jailed Turkish teacher in Georgia for second time”
30-“Zaman employee says facing life sentence due to a TV commercial”
31-“Altans’ lawyer tells judges ignoring top court’s ruling could lead to expulsion from post”
32-“Journalist recounts flight from post-coup crackdown in Turkey”
33-“Syrian Kurdish Groups Claim Turkish Army Hit Village In Afrin With Suspected Gas”
34-” Turkish Court Rules For Continuation Of Former HDP Co-Chair Demirtaş’s Imprisonment”
35-“Jailed Turkish Air Forces’ Colonel Reportedly Losses His Life In İstanbul’s Silivri Prison Because Of Negligence”
36-“Int’l Press And Human Rights Bodies Slam Turkish Court’s Rule Of Aggravated Life Sentences For Prominent Journalists”
37-“Turkish Family Still Missing After Capsized Boat Incident On Turkish-Greek Border”
38-“Turkey Witnesses Yet Another Family Tragedy Under Rule Of Emergency Over Alleged Links To Gülen Movement”
39-“Murat Belge, A Renowned Turkish Academic, Leaving Turkey As ‘Scholar At Risk’”
40-“15-Year Prison Sentence Sought For Turkish Journalist Who Founded Two National News Channel”
41-“Famous Turkish Businessman Hosta Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison Over His Alleged Gülen Links”
42-“UK high court refuses Turkey extradition due to overcrowded prisons”
43-“Human Rights Watch sees no end to Turkish crackdown”
Türkiye tarafından işlenenen İnsan Hakları İhlalleri | 2/12/2018-2/19/2018
1-“Türkiye’den Almanya’ya iltica başvuruları arttı”
2-“Boydak Ailesine soykırım!”
3-“Avrupa’dan gazetecilere verilen müebbete tepki: Türkiye’yi ekonomik olarak cezalandırın!”
4-“Cem Özdemir: Türkiye’de hiçbir şey doğru yürümüyor”
5-“İşadamı Hidayet Kadiroğlu’na Bankasya’ya para yatırdığı iddiasıyla yakalama kararı”
6-“Beştepe Sarayı’na komşu işkence merkezi”
7-“‘Niye çıktım, bir sene önce neden tutuklandım, bilmiyorum’”
8-“‘Niye çıktım, bir sene önce neden tutuklandım, bilmiyorum’”
9-“Foto Muhabiri Çağdaş Erdoğan: 4 polis tarafından çırılçıplak soyulup işkenceye uğradım!”
10-“Cemaat üyesi olmakla suçlandı; hamileyken cezaevine girdi ve ikizlerini kaybetti”
11-“Polis’in tutuklattığı Selma Polat’a 7 yıl 7 ay 7 gün hapis cezası”
12-“Erdoğan rejiminin cezaevinde kanser ettiği genç akademisyen hayatını kaybetti”
13-“Semih Terzi’nin eşi ‘Sippenhaft’ uygulamasıyla hapis cezasına çarptırıldı”
14-“Afrin operasyonundan dolayı mahkuma dayak attılar”
15-“Erdoğan Türkiye’sinde siyah transportların sırrı ne?”
16-“3. havalimanı inşaatında çoğu iş cinayeti sümen altı ediliyor”
17-“Roboskililer 320 haftadır adalet bekliyor”
18-“Aram Yayınevi’nin ofisine polis baskınında kapılar balyozla kırıldı”
19-“Bandırma Cezaevi’nde işkence: Dövülen tutsaklar kan kusuyor”
20-“Hapishanelerde büyüyen çocuklar ABD medyasında geniş yer buldu”
21-“Tutuklular, gardiyanlardan gördüğü şiddetten dolayı yürüyemiyor”
22-“AYM bireysel başvuru istatistiklerini açıkladı: Yargı var adalet yok”
23-“‘Türkiye’de kalmaktansa, Atina’da aç kalmayı tercih ettik’”
24-“Washington Post’tan Yazıcı’ya destek”
25-“Engelli oğlunu öldürüp intihar eden kadın toprağa verildi”
26-“‘Meriç’te can verenler Tayyip Erdoğan’ın kurbanları’”
27-“Darbe davasında gazetecilere ağırlaştırılmış müebbet”
28-“Meclis’te bir ilk: Erdoğan’a hakaret suçlamasıyla vekilliği düşürülecek”
29-“63 harp okulu öğrencisi için müebbet istemi”
30-“TOMA’nın ezerek öldürdüğü vatandaş kusurlu bulundu”
31-“Engelli oğlunu öldürüp intihar eden kadın toprağa verildi”
32-“Erdoğan’dan partisinin ‘KHK eleştirileri’ne: Hayat risktir”
33-“Beş yaşındaki çocuk üzerine 500 kiloluk reklam panosu düşünce öldü, sorumlu yok!”
34-“AP’de Türkiye’ye insan hakları ve Afrin eleştirisi”
Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, the government of Turkey has taken strict measures to silence dissidents from various ideologies both within and outside of its borders. The state of emergency, which was recently extended for the fifth time, and decree laws pave the way for discrimination and segregation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and political or other opinions. Unfortunately, all the dissident groups have received their shares from the government’s purge.
One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement (a.k.a “Hizmet Movement”, meaning service in Turkish), has been the main target since 2013. The Gulen Movement is a faith-based non-political movement focusing on cultural and educational activities. It is composed of a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations inspired by a Turkish scholar, Fethullah Gulen.
Other opposition groups have also been targeted. Especially, Kurdish and Alevi people have been oppressed significantly. For instance, Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish political party – Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is still in prison. Moreover, Osman Kavala, one of the most significant civil society activists working to mend the relationship between Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian people and a businessman sponsoring Amnesty International, is also yet under arrest for alleged ties to the Hizmet Movement.
Since the July 15 failed coup attempt, President Erdogan and the government have been accusing Fethullah Gulen and his sympathizers to have connections with the failed coup. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement with the attempted coup. Foreign intelligence units such as Germany’s BND Foreign Intelligence Agency’s chief, EU intelligence-sharing unit (Intern), UK Parliament and US House Intel Chair have all noted that there is no concrete evidence indicating Mr. Gulen’s involvement. Nonetheless, Gulen spoke to global media outlets right after the coup attempt and condemned any effort against democracy. He called for an open international investigation to find out who was behind the coup attempt.
Yet, the Turkish government chose to declare state of emergency, which still continues as of February 2018, to purge thousands of people. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. After the failed coup, more than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily detained, and almost 65,000 people have been arrested. Most of them belong to the elite part of the society and are well-educated individuals with different backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. What is striking is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity. As two of the most vulnerable groups, women and children were affected a lot too. 17,000 women and 1914 children, where 688 are babies under age of six, are still in prison under inhuman conditions. There have also been several cases where women with their few days old babies were put in prison just after giving birth. Moreover, more than 4,400 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed indicating around one-third of all judiciary. The government has also shut down 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities as well as confiscated more than 800 companies worth more than $10 billion, all were founded and owned by dissidents – mostly by the supporters of the Movement.
Kati Piri, member of the European Parliament, has been one of the most concerned individuals regarding the grave situation in Turkey. She has been working on Turkey’s EU membership process as Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament. She recently gave a crucial speech talking about the ongoing events in Turkey.
Below you can find Kati Piri’s speech delivered on February 7, 2018:
“Dear Osman, dear Ahmet, dear Selahattin,
At the moment that Turkey is going through a difficult period, it needs brave people like you to stand up for human rights and the respect for rule of law. But for having done exactly that, you are now in a prison cell behind bars. While you cannot follow this debate, I hope your lawyers and family will inform you that we have not forgotten you! And we will continue to plea for your release as your arrests are politicized and arbitrary.
Osman Kavala, Ahmet Şik and Selehattin Demirtas are not the only innocent persons in jail in Turkey. While the perpetrators of the heinous coup attempt must be prosecuted and brought to justice, so many people became victims of the massive crackdown on all democratic opposition voices. The numbers are mind-boggling – more than 150.000 people fired and over 50.000 imprisoned. But remember that all these people have a face, have a family, have friends who are hoping that a normalization is still possible.
The state of emergency has led to a situation that the government can rule by decree – without parliamentary or judicial scrutiny. Every aspect in Turkish society has become securitized – meaning, that all who voice criticism against the government’s’ policies, are being labelled as terrorist or terrorism supporters. With that, legitimate and peaceful opposition is being silenced – in real life and on social media. Last two weeks, almost 500 people were detained for peacefully opposing Turkey’s military operation in Afrin.
There is also a structural problem with the lack of independence of the judiciary. And how big that problem is, we could witness last month. First there was a ruling by the Constitutional Court in Turkey to release jailed journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay, as their rights had been violated. And although the highest court’s orders were crystal clear, a local penal court decided to keep them in detention.
Last week, we could witness another travesty of justice. The wife and daughters of Turkey’s Amnesty International Chair were waiting in front of the gates of the prison in Izmir to welcome their loved one into their arms after an 8-month imprisonment. A judge had ruled earlier that day for his release on bail. But within a couple of hours, the same judge changed his mind and ordered his re-arrest. And for all those people who have lost their jobs by decree, there is so far little hope for remedy. From one day to another, they have been labeled as terrorists and therewith socially excluded.
High Representative Mogherini, the EU is preparing a mini-Summit with Turkish President Erdogan at the end of March. We could read in the papers that no preconditions have been put on the table. But I hope you can tell us what you expect as results from such a meeting. We, in the Parliament, expect the EU to be loud and clear on human rights in Turkey. Not only because these are the values that our Union is based upon, and Turkey as a candidate should adhere to them. But also because we risk losing credibility and support by a majority of Turkish society if we don’t stand up for their rights in these dark times.”
As the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, we agree Kati Piri’s points, and we call the Turkish government to put an end to these arbitrary and unacceptable applications. We would like to remind the government its responsibilities under the international human rights law and ask to comply with the human rights standards accepted worldwide.
Download as a PDF File: AST_2-7-2018_Kati-Piris-speech-in-EP-Plenary-Turkey-P11
Turkish Police Torture Two University Personnel For Weeks In Antalya Over Their Alleged Links To Gülen Movement
Sedat Gökçen and Ahmet Gödük, two former personnel of the International Antalya University, which was closed by a government decree under the rule of emergency over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, have reportedly been subject to heavy torture and maltreatments for weeks under the police custody in Turkey’s Antalya province.
According to information shared by a @Turkeydeiskence, a Twitter account focuses on the torture and maltreatment cases in Turkey under the rule of emergency, because of the severe torture in Antalya Police Department Ahmet Gödük has become unable to walk. The @Turkeydeiskence has reported that Gökçen and Gödük have been subjected to physical torture, maltreatments and psychological pressure to oblige them to make “confessions.”
It was reported that Gökçen and Gödük were detained on January 16, 2018 at Antalya Terra City Shopping Mall by a group of civil police officers. Police officers applied physical violence to Gökçen and Gödük even during the process of their detentions. Because of the violence applied to him, herniated disc problem of Gökçen has reemerged and he has experienced a severe loss in his hearing capability and he lost his balance. He has bruises and swelling in different parts of his body.
Ahmed Gödük, who has also herniated disc problem, has started to experience serious problem as he walks because of the heavy violence he has been a target.
It was also reported that the police have prevented Gökçen and Gödük from getting doctor reports in order to prevent the exposure of torture and maltreatments they applied. Therefore, the custody periods of Gökçen and Gödük were arbitrarily extended to 15 days so that the traces of torture that they had imposed on them to vanish.
Also during this long detention period, Gökçen and Gödük were subjected to maltreatments including threats, insults, starvation, deprivation of bathing, interfering with their worship. At the end of the detention period with torture and maltreatments, Gökçen and Gödük were arrested by a local court and sent to Döşemealtı Prison in Antalya.
1) Uluslararası Antalya Üniversitesi eski personeli SEDAT GÖKÇEN ve AHMET GÖDÜK’ün gözaltında tutuldukları KOM Şube Müdürlüğü’nde işkencelerin giderek arttığı, işkencelerden dolayı AHMET GÖDÜK’ün yürüyemez hale geldiği ortaya çıktı!@EmniyetGM@AntalyaValilik@AntalyaEmniyet pic.twitter.com/tvhYIePDOo
— Türkiye'de İŞKENCE (@Turkeydeiskence) January 31, 2018