The Human Rights Association (IHD) celebrated its 26th anniversary in Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square with a press release on Monday. The IHD's Istanbul branch head Ümit Efe highlighted ongoing rights violations in Turkey and called on authorities to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations' (UN) Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
"26 years ago, it was the military governing us; now, it is politicians [in the mold] of the police that are governing us. We could not achieve a new, democratic constitution. We could not solve the Kurdish problem. We kept ignoring Alevis' demands. We succeeded in further exploiting the workers and the laborers. We filled prisons [to the brim] with people declaring their opinions," Efe said in the press release.
The participants unfurled banners that read "Everyone is equal, everyone is different," "Conscientious objection is a human right," "Democratic, peaceful solution for the Kurdish problem," "No to violence against women," "Find the disappeared, call [the responsible] to account," "End violence against transsexual individuals."
"Human dignity shall prevail over torture," "A human becomes a human with his rights," "No to war, peace here and now," "Beje Bratiya gelan" ("Long live the fraterntiy of peoples" in Kurdish,) the demonstrators also chanted.
"The only thing we believe we have succeeded in during [the past] 26 years, is the proliferation of the idea that human rights constitute a value and that any struggle is worth waging for it," Efe said, adding that government authorities had filled the country's prisons up to the brim with lawyers, students, intellectuals and Kurds.
There are still massive violations of the right to life in Turkey, while torture and ill-treatment still continue unabated, he said. Authorities obstruct people's right to assembly and demonstration, restrict the freedom of speech while engaging in practices of incarceration that are not in conformity with human dignity, he added.
The press statement also hailed Emil Galip Sandalcı, Gülizar Çağlayan, Didar Şensoy, Mahmut Tali Öngören, Mehmet Ali Aybar, Niyazi Ağırnaslı, İbrahim Tezan, Ahmet Tahtakılıç, Aziz Nesin, Hamdi Konur, İsmet Pekdemir, Nusret Fişek, Haldun Özen, Recep Cüre, Cahit Talas, İbrahim Açan, Jülide Gülizar and Halit Çelenk, who were among the 98 human rights advocates that established the IHD on July 16, 1986.
The press statement further called upon the memories of other IHD managers and members who lost their lives while waging their struggle for the advancement of human rights:
Vedat Aydın, Sıddık Tan, İdris Özçelik, Kemal Kılıç, Orhan Karaağar, Cemal Akar, Şevket Epözdemir, Muhsin Melik, İhsan Mikyaz, Tacettin Aşçı, Abuzer Öner, Ahmet Aydın, M. Şirin Polat, Medeni Göktepe, Şükrü Fırat, Yahya Orhan, Eyüp Gökoğlu, Cengiz Altun, Habip Kılıç, Mehmet Sincar, Metin Can, Hasan Kaya, Sedat Özevin, Sadi Özdemir, Salih Özdemir. (EZA/NV)