Human rights in Turkey
- Ceasefire in Turkey today, not tomorrow, that is our goal. This was the message from Metin Bakkalci, a leading human rights defender in Turkey, who was the main speaker at the seminar "Human rights in Turkey – moving in the wrong direction?". The Norwegian Helsinki Committee arranged the seminar at the House of litterature on 26 January together with the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) and the Norwegian Medical Association.
Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, introduced and moderated the well-attended seminar. He underlined that Turkey introduced important reforms, strengthening protection of human rights, in the early 2000s. After 2005, however, developments shifted towards centralisation of power, restrictions on fundamental freedoms and anti-terror legislation was adopted that did not respect human rights. New signals from Brussels on intensified negotiations on Turkish membership in the EU, should lead to a new reform agenda on human rights and democracy in the country, he underlined.
- If you destroy the values of human rights, a real peace will not be possible in Turkey, Bakkalci underlined at the seminar.
Bakkalci gave a thorough overview of the human rights and security situation in Southeast Turkey, which in his view has deteriorated significantly since summer 2015, resulting in civilians been killed or wounded and forcing large part of the civilian population to flee from their homes.
At the seminar, John Kinahan, Assistant Editor in Forum 18 News Service, presented the main findings of the NHC Freedom of Belief Initiative monitoring report covering the period July 2014 to June 2015, a report that covers the main problems concerning freedom of religion or belief in Turkey. - Turkey needs a principled approach to the implementation of human rights, Kinahan underlined in his presentation.
Njål Høstmælingen, Director at ILPI gave an overview of the challenging human rights situation in the country. - The difficult human rights situation in Turkey is reflected in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. We see that the Court find Turkey to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in numerous cases, Høstmælingen said. - Also reports and statements from other European and internatonal institutions give a similarly negative picture of developments in the country.
Beate Ekeløve-Slydal, Political Advisor at Amnesty International Norway, presented the main findings of recent Amnesty International reports on human rights violations in Turkey. Turkey violates human rights both in the context of the conflicts with the Kurdish Labour Party (PKK) and the current refugee crisis. She criticized the EU, Norway and other western powers for being too soft on Turkey's human rights violations.
Watch the presentations from the seminar on Youtube