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Statement on the Occasion of Human Rights Day

73 years ago today, the Member States of the United Nations came together to adopt

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This step brought the world together after

the greatest tragedy in human history.


The Universal Declaration, which served as a milestone in helping countries to

establish a viable and realistic human rights framework, has certainly had a positive

impact on our societies: We have come a long way, in terms of human rights, since

then.


Undoubtedly, the number of people living under favorable conditions, in terms of

human rights, is today higher than ever before in history. Although this may be a source

for optimism, severe and systematic human rights violations, a decline in the number

of democracies, thus shrinking civil society spaces, still continue around the world.

Additionally, violent attacks, incidents of enforced disappearance, and repression

against free speech and the civil sphere, are increasing day by day through the use of

punitive methods.


On Human Rights Day, we, as the stakeholders of the Peaceful Actions Platform, and

as non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders, would like to

announce once again that our struggle for human dignity, equality, justice, peace and

democracy, continues, and will continue. Every human being is born free and equal.

This indisputable truth must be embraced by all of us in the spirit of solidarity.


After 2013’s Gezi Park protests, and the 2013 corruption probe that involved senior

government figures, the Turkish government undermined the independence of the

judiciary and of the rule of law. Going beyond the search for legitimate power, the

Turkish government started to commit hate crimes and pursued a policy that was

aimed at marginalizing certain groups and polarizing society. After the events of July

15th, the government put its hate policies into action, and applied systematic and

organized torture, especially against those who are perceived to be affiliated with the

Gülen Movement, and those who are Kurdish.


Widespread torture and ill-treatment have become an epidemic in today's Turkey, in

official and unofficial places of detention, including prisons, on the streets, and almost

everywhere. Enforced disappearances and illegal renditions that target the

government’s critics, both in Turkey and abroad, have become a common practice of

the State’s apparatus.


The government tries to instill fear and terror in every individual whose ideas are not

in line with its own, and accuses those who disagree with them of terrorism.

As the Peaceful Actions Platform, we human rights defenders will continue to fight

under all circumstances, believing in the sanctity of the right to life, regardless of

language, religion, race, nationality, gender, ethnic and cultural differences. We

emphasize that these practices, which harm human life and the humane fabric of the

social structure, and that constitute crimes against humanity, should be terminated

immediately by the authorities. The State and the government should remember that

we are all human and equal, and should stop committing crimes against humanity

immediately.


There are many different categories of such acts, such as increased discrimination

against certain groups, torture and ill-treatment, interference with the right to assembly

and demonstration, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of the press, the

inviolability of housing, the violation of property rights, violence against women and

children, and the loss of economic and social rights. Such violations are increasing day

by day.

The government should immediately stop targeting those who are critical of its own

policies and defend basic human rights, ending the practice of portraying them as

enemies by committing hate crimes. The fact that at least 1,576,566 people have been

investigated for so-called ‘terrorist crimes’ in the Republic of Turkey, is the most

concrete proof of this.


There has been heavy pressure on, and censorship of, the press; Newspapers,

television and radio stations have been shut down, and society’s right to receive news

has been taken away. As a result of practices such as confiscating the press cards of

journalists, and, furthermore, their arrest and unemployment, both individuals' access

to information and the public's access to information have become almost impossible.

Journalism is not a crime. However, objective journalism is equated with "terror" by the

Turkish government.


We, as the Peaceful Actions Platform, once again commit to continuing our

struggle to end the ongoing serious human rights violations in Turkey, which

constitute crimes against humanity.

We Are All Humans, We Are All Equal!