In Turkey, the right to freedom of assembly and association is under constant attack, and human rights defenders are under increasing pressure. In a three-part series, the latest report of which is published today, the FIDH-OMCT Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and their member organization the Human Rights Association (Insan Haklari DernegiIHD) records and analyzes how the government orchestrates the contraction of civil space in Turkey.
The Turkish government’s repression of civil society continues in Turkey against the backdrop of widespread decline in democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Following the protests in Gezi Park in 2013, Turkey’s FIDH and its affiliates, the IHD and the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı, TIHV), documented in a 2014 report how the Turkish authorities used nonviolent and non-violent police force. To reduce civic space. The 2016 coup attempt further endangered fundamental rights, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promising that ” Clean the virus from all state institutions In response to this violent coup. Human rights violations during the next two years of emergency took on massive proportions; Thousands of civilians, including several human rights defenders, have been removed from their posts and faced criminal charges, while dozens of NGOs and media organizations – especially in the Kurdish region – have been shut down by emergency decrees.
The first report in this three-part series, published in July 2020, sheds light on the right to freedom of assembly and documents how the state of emergency remains on Turkey’s agenda despite the official end of the state of emergency in July 2018. According to conducted research. By TIHV, between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020, authorities have issued at least 147 decisions banning all rallies and demonstrations in 25 cities for 2 to 395 days. Meetings and demonstrations in the city of Van have been banned since November 2016. When protesters violate the ban on exercising their right to freedom of assembly, they often face police brutality and violent dispersal. Women’s and environmental rights organizations, as well as LGBTI + and labor rights defenders, have been specifically barred from targeting and enforcing their freedom of assembly. These restrictions and the violent spread of peaceful demonstrations are a direct violation of freedom of assembly, but only one of the mechanisms used by the government to weaken civil space.
Erdogan’s crackdown on civil society includes an arsenal of legislation aimed at strengthening public oversight of civil society and limiting the freedom of association, as recorded in the Observatory’s second report, published in May 2021. A portion of this Act, Act No. 7262, came into force on 31 December, 2020 It allows the Home Minister to dismiss staff members and / or managers of civil society organizations under trial on terrorism-related charges and increases the applicable administrative fines for organizations that collect donations online. Platform without prior approval from the authorities. Although overly balanced administrative and financial requirements hinder the work of civil society actors and complex bureaucratic requirements are used as an excuse to suppress civil society organizations, public resources are increasingly flowing into new government-run NGOs (Gango). These organizations are presented as an alternative civil society that supports government action.
These measures are complementary to the use of judicial and administrative harassment against human rights defenders, reducing the right to freedom of assembly and association. This strategy is the theme of the third and final report of the Observatory. After being acquitted of two charges against him, IHD vice-president said. Ztürk Türkdogan, Still facing charges in a criminal case where he insulted Home Minister Suleiman Soylu through an IHD public statement criticizing the minister’s threatening remarks. Sixteen members of the Migration Monitoring Association were arrested indiscriminately earlier this month (June 2022). Two associations – the Tarlabaşı Community Center and the We Will Stop Families Platform – are under a closed-door approach. All of these lawsuits were filed against the associations following an administrative audit, which showed how administrative laws and prohibitions were used to harass civil society and pave the way for judicial harassment.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions, investigations, trials and judicial harassment in retaliation for their legitimate human rights work against defenders have continued since the state of emergency, violated human rights and have had a cooling effect on civil society. General. Another vice-president of IHD, Erin Keskin, Also a victim of harassment and recently sentenced to six years and three months in prison for “belonging to an armed group.” Other human rights defenders, e.g. Osman Kavala, Firat Akdeniz And 46 participants in a peaceful Saturday mother / public surveillance, recently jailed or arbitrarily arrested and detained. This harassment, along with the insulting propaganda against the defenders, is a tool of the Erdogan government to tarnish civil society and human rights defenders in the eyes of the public, against whom human rights defenders have no effective remedy, due to lack of independence of the judiciary. .
This in-depth documentation and analysis of the threat to Turkish civil society and the shrinking of Turkish civil space helps to create recommendations for the Turkish government and international actors aimed at addressing the concerns raised by Turkish civil society and human rights defenders. International organizations can take steps, including assessing the situation, visiting countries to assess the impact of rights restrictions on the work of civil society groups, raising concerns and making recommendations to the Turkish government bilaterally through public statements and diplomatic channels. And in multilateral forums, to ensure that fundamental rights, freedom of assembly and association, and the security of human rights defenders are ultimately respected.
The reports were produced under the auspices of the EU-funded program “Extensive Support for Human Rights Defenders in Turkey”. Led by FIDH and led by a consortium of NGOs including OMCT Europe, the program aims to support and strengthen the capacity of Turkish civil society and human rights defenders, especially in the difficult situations they face.