Amnesty report reveals retrogressive state of human rights in Turkey

Amnesty report reveals retrogressive state of human rights in Turkey

Amnesty report reveals retrogressive state of human rights in Turkey

AFP photo

The overall state of human rights in Turkey has substantially deteriorated in Turkey since the June 7 general elections, followed by ongoing violence in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions as well as concerns in press freedom, terror attacks and the refugee crisis, Amnesty International’s Annual Report has revealed.

The report said the Turkish media had faced “unprecedented pressure” from the government with unfair prosecutions, arrested and jailed journalists and multiple lawsuits against people who criticize public officials or the government.

“The government exerted immense pressure on the media, targeting media companies and digital distribution networks, and singling out critical journalists, who were then threatened and physically attacked by often unidentified assailants. Mainstream journalists were fired after criticizing the government. News websites, including large swathes of the Kurdish press, were blocked on unclear grounds by administrative orders aided by a compliant judiciary. Journalists were harassed and assaulted by police while covering stories in the predominantly Kurdish southeast,” the report said as limitations on the right to peaceful assembly continued to be violated in the country. 

According to the report, allegations on the excessive use of force by security forces and ill-treatment, especially in the country’s curfew-declared restive southeast, has also dramatically increased.

“In many cases, conflicting accounts and the absence of effective investigations prevented the facts from being established,” it said while pointing to the erodent state of judicial independence.

In addition, the report also presented a timeline of the latest terror attacks targeting the country since the parliamentary elections, including the July 20 Suruç bombing and the Oct. 10 Ankara bombing in addition to the recent outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks that have targeted security forces as well as civilians.

The report also touched on the latest refugee tragedy in Turkey, saying that most of the migrants living outside received insufficient assistance and were not granted the right to work compared to those who live in government-run camps. It also noted that many faced deportation back to their homelands under the EU deal signed in October.

“In September, at least 200 refugees – mostly Syrian – attempting to travel irregularly to Greece were kept in incommunicado or even secret detention at various locations in Turkey. Many were pressured into agreeing to “voluntarily” return to Syria and Iraq, in a flagrant breach of international law,” the report said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Turkey Campaigns and Advocacy Director Ruhat Sena Akşener warned that human rights violations in Turkey would continue unless laws in line with international norms are put into force and independent investigation procedures are run.

“If measures are not taken urgently against the oppression of opposition voices, social media, and freedom of opinion and the press, these concerns will deepen further,” Akşener told Doğan News Agency in a press meeting in Istanbul.