The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and the Human Rights Association (İHD) issued a joint press statement on the occasion of the Human Rights Week from 10 to 17 December. Both human rights organizations drew attention to mass arrests in Turkey in 2011.
The statement marked the 63rd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. It was said that significant violations occurred against people who wanted to make use of their rights to freedom of thought, expression and association in Turkey in 2011. "We do not want to give a statement but express ourselves", the organizations claimed.
"In Turkey, continuous judicial pressure is being applied to political parties carrying out legal political activities and to organizations of social opposition. They are treated as armed organizations".
Right to association violated
The joint statement referred to examples such as trials opened against political parties and institutions like the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), the Social Freedom Platform (TÖP), the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), the Community Centres organization and executives and members of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK).
"25 members of KESK, including the organization's president, were sentenced on the grounds of arbitrary and unjust charges of membership of an illegal organization. Members and executives of the Community Centres organization and the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) are facing trial by reason of the incidents related to Hopa. These are examples of heavy violations of the right to association", it was announced.
The statement also comprised sections on other human rights violations, i.e. mass arrests related to the KCK trial (Union of Kurdish Communities; the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is affiliated with the KCK); purported zero tolerance to torture; impunity for torturers and casualties as the result of tear gas.
2,057 arrests in KCK investigation in 7 months
* Crucial obstructions before the right to freedom of expression and opinion and a fair trial are caused by the facilitation of arrests by provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law, regulations on secret witnesses and applications of telephone interception and technical surveillance.
* The number of custodies and arrests with regard to investigations into Ergenekon, the KCK or the Hopa incidents has reached massive dimensions. In the context of the "KCK Investigation" for instance, a total of 4,815 people were taken into custody, most of them BDP members and executives, during the past seven months from March to November 2011. 2,057 of these people were arrested. The rush of custodies and arrests is still going on, the statement underlined.
Zero tolerance to torture remained an empty promise
* Deaths caused by violence of police forces continued in 2011. 19 people lost their lives till 28 November due to extrajudicial killings, ignoring a stop warning and as the result of random gun fire. At the same time, 9 unsolved murders were committed. 35 people died in prisons, four persons at detention centres, the rights organizations revealed.
Impunity for torturers
* Also the term "zero tolerance to torture" remained mere rhetoric in 2011. 473 people applied to the TİHV until the end of November due to experienced torture or ill-treatment.
* The frequency of torture and ill-treatment applied in locations outside officially registered places (streets, vehicles, meetings and demonstrations) has increased. Impunity encourages the torturers. Trials against people who applied torture are not opened ex officio. Prosecution periods are very long and result in acquittals or the minimum penalty.
6 People killed with tear gas
* 2011 saw serious interventions against the right to meetings and demonstrations. Six people died in the course of police interventions and 271 were injured. All events of death were caused by the effect of tear gas or hits by gas bomb capsules.
* The number of violations in the field of press freedom increased as well in 2011. 71 journalists are still being imprisoned. According to the data compiled by TİHV and İHD, a total of seven newspapers and magazines were suspended from publication. The number access bans to websites amounted to 15,506. (AS/VK)