Human Rights in Turkey
While Turkey’s human rights record has always been flawed in many ways, a widespread crackdown mounted by the government in the wake of a failed coup attempt in July 2016 has led to a terrible degradation in human rights and to violations of unprecedented proportions.
The government’s reckless and brutal response to the abortive putsch, for which it has been accused of using the incident as a pretext to crack down on dissent, has negatively affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from all backgrounds.
The US Department of State in its recent Turkey-related human rights documents has listed some of the reported human rights issues such as arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of people in custody, forced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention of tens of thousands for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech, closure of media outlets and criminal prosecution of individuals for criticizing government policies or officials, blocking websites and content, severe restriction of freedoms of assembly and association, restriction on freedom of movement and violence against women, LGBT persons as well as members of other minorities.
Other reports have highlighted lesser known aspects of the crackdown, such as the denial of medical services in prisons, denial of attorney-client privilege, systematic police violence, extra-legal and forcible deportation of dissidents from abroad, denial of consular services in consulates, arbitrary cancellation of passports, abuse of Interpol mechanisms to intimidate foreign-based dissidents, impunity for crimes committed by officials and an obvious lack of independence and impartiality which plagues Turkey’s judiciary.
The Turkish authorities have investigated over half a million people for alleged “terrorism” links over clumsy evidence such as bank accounts, downloading open and free messaging apps and union memberships; detained hundreds of thousands and arrested nearly 100,000. More than 130,000 public sector workers, including judges, prosecutors, academics, teachers, doctors and nurses were summarily dismissed by state of emergency decree laws and with no effective means of appeal.
These staggering numbers can only provide a partial representation of the picture as they fall short of reflecting the real human cost of the purge; the lives lost under custody or while trying to flee the country, the families shattered, the infant children growing up behind bars, the psychological traumas brought on by social alienation and many other stories that might have been untold.
That is why we have committed ourselves to telling the story to as many people as we can, organizing events aimed at raising awareness, reporting abuses, assisting the victims and lobbying the European governments as well as the European and international institutions with the aim of stopping the violations and relieving the vulnerable victims who are deprived of necessary means to defend themselves.