Turkey in worst period in terms of rights abuses: Human Rights Association head

Turkey in worst period in terms of rights abuses: Human Rights Association head

Turkey in worst period in terms of rights abuses: Human Rights Association head

The Human Rights Monument, which is encircled by riot police with a fence, is seen in Ankara. REUTERS photo

Turkey is going through its worst period in terms of rights abuses since the foundation of the Human Rights Association (İHD), according to İHD head Öztürk Türkdoğan. 

Türkdoğan said İHD’s annual report listed the highest number of human rights violations since its establishment on July 17, 1986. 

“When I was announcing the 2016 report in the beginning of April, I said ‘I’m revealing the worst rights violations report since 1999.’ However, our former head Hüsnü Öndül warned me that this period is the worst in terms of violations including the former state of emergency period,” Türkdoğan told daily Cumhuriyet on June 26, referring to the state of emergency period that lasted for 15 years and ended in 2002. 

Turkey is currently under a state of emergency, which was declared after the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

While the emergency rule was declared for three months after the attempted takeover, it has been extended since then. 

“When you look at the number of jailed journalists, mayors and lawmakers, Hüsnü was right. We can say that this is the grimmest picture since the foundation of İHD. The war may not have reached the numbers of the 1990s, but it’s unfortunately close to that,” Türkdoğan added. 

When asked about the areas in which abuses took place the most, Türkdoğan noted that there were serious violations in the category of extrajudicial executions.

“The violation of one’s right to freedom, meaning arbitrary detentions and arrests, are at the highest level. People are being arrested over their thoughts, which is the practice of preventing and punishing freedom of expression. One of the direst developments is the claims of people going missing under detention, which hasn’t been experienced since 2004. There are 11 abduction claims that we announced to the public after the thwarted coup,” he added. 

In the interview, Türkdoğan said one of the most significant factors preventing justice in Turkey is the “policy of impunity.”

“This policy previously became a state policy due to the frequency of coups and in time it has become a culture,” he said.