Group slams Turkey for rights record
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily NewsTurkey’s international credibility as a rising regional power will be compromised as long as it imprisons journalists, Kurdish political activists and other government critics, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday in its World Report 2012.
Since winning a third term with a strong showing of 50 percent of the vote in the June 12 general election, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has taken increasing steps to abridge rights at home, HRW said. The report stated that the government has restricted freedom of expression, association and assembly with laws that allow authorities to jail its critics for many months or years while they stand trial for alleged terrorism offenses on the basis of flimsy evidence.
Human Rights Watch highlighted the increasing number of arrested journalists, academics, elected serving mayors and lawyers by particularly giving the cases of journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, academic Büşra Ersanlı and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu. It emphasized that many of them are in prolonged pre-trial detention.
The report also highlighted the violence against women in Turkey, police violence and use of force, moves to combat impunity for human rights violations and international pressure on Turkey over its human rights record. The government has pledged to rewrite the constitution to further human rights. But the intensified clampdown centering on officials of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and also including other critics of the government threatens that process, Human Rights Watch said.
The organization called for the full and impartial investigation into all civilian deaths and said that those responsible for unlawful killings should be brought to justice, citing the Dec. 28, 2011, attack in which Turkish Air Force jets bombed and killed 34 Kurdish villagers, 19 of them children, in Şırnak province near the Iraq border.