Amnesty -1 – First Report

Dear Members of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Turkey,

Our association, “Security Research and the Rule of Law,” established by security personnel and jurists who were compelled to leave Turkey due to political pressures and security concerns, commenced its activities in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2023. Our association aims to defend democratic rights and freedoms, support practices that protect and uphold human rights and the rule of law, and investigate and publicize violations such as torture, genocide, and other injustices and grievances.

We believe that the Turkey section of Amnesty International’s 2022/23 report titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” similar to the 2020/21 and 2021/22 reports, partially or biasedly reflects human rights violations occurring in Turkey.

In your 2022/23 report, it appears that you address issues of “political” and “ethnic” victimization and gender discrimination in Turkey. Specifically:

– The report mentions “Dicle Fırat Journalists Association, journalist Sinan Aygül from Bitlis, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and its executives, the Human Rights Association, and the Rosa Women’s Association based in Diyarbakır,” highlighting ethnic-based victimization.

– References to “the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the student protests at Boğaziçi University, and the shutdown of the newspaper Özgür Gündem following the 2016 coup attempt” indicate political victimization of those not sharing the same views as the ruling power.

– The repeated mention of LGBTI+ rights brings attention to victimization based on gender discrimination.

On the other hand, the report specifically names individuals such as “Osman Kavala and those alleged to have aided him, Selahattin Demirtaş, former Chairman of Amnesty International Turkey Taner Kılıç, and President of the Turkish Medical Association Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı” as victims.

While we acknowledge the victimizations mentioned under the headings of “political,” “ethnic,” and “gender discrimination,” are these the only categories and topics of victimization in Turkey?

Your report notes the victimization due to the “shutdown of Özgür Gündem following the 2016 coup attempt.” Do you think the primary victimization following the 2016 coup attempt is the case of “Özgür Gündem”? According to the official site of the OHAL (State of Emergency) Commission, a total of 131,922 measures were implemented following the decrees issued post-2016, including 125,678 dismissals from public service (3,213 rank removals, 270 dismissals of overseas students, 2,761 institutional closures). Is it fair to mention only one violation while these figures are not addressed at all?

Your report mentions the pop singer Gülşen being detained for three days and then placed under house arrest as a form of victimization. Do the thousands of innocent people, including mothers whose trials have resulted in hundreds of children being in prisons, due to the unsubstantiated accusations of membership in a terrorist organization, not constitute a human rights violation?

Even after the devastating earthquake we experienced, the continued victimization of thousands of KHK (decree-law) victims who are earthquake survivors, who are unable to receive support such as scholarships/loans and are denied accommodation in state dormitories, indicates that the victimization continued unabated in 2023. Did the KHK community not suffer any victimization in 2022?

Internationally:

In 2021, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, the right to personal liberty and security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, and the right to organize were violated during the judicial processes of dozens of people. Furthermore, in 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled, in a decision binding on Turkey, that the “right to liberty and security” was violated for hundreds of judges and prosecutors dismissed on the pretext of membership in the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ/PDY) without reasonable suspicion. As Amnesty International is an international organization, do you not agree with the decisions of the aforementioned UN body and the ECHR, do you not see any victimization in these matters, or why are some of the thousands of these victimizations not brought to the agenda?

In November 2022, Vice President Fuat OKTAY stated in the Turkish Grand National Assembly that more than 100 people were unlawfully abducted from foreign countries and brought to Turkey by the National Intelligence Organization. Why did you not address these actions at all in your 2022/23 report, and why did you mention only two names in your 2021/22 report?

In conclusion, we would like to state that the unlawful and internationally illegal actions carried out by the ruling power in Turkey post-2016, aiming at the genocide of a social group, are not included in Amnesty International’s reports titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights” in the Turkey sections. Despite the victimizations being confirmed by international organizations and courts and generally accepted by democratic countries as politically motivated persecution, resulting in the acceptance of “political asylum requests,” are these events not recognized as victimization by Amnesty International? If so, what is the reason for not recognizing them? If they are recognized as victimization, why are they not included in the reports, and will necessary steps be taken to include them in future reports?

We request information from Amnesty International Turkey in accordance with the principle of transparency regarding these issues. Additionally, initiatives will be undertaken with the central organization of Amnesty International (International Secretariat and International Board of Directors).

Wishing you a good day and successful work.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors of the Association for Security Research and the Rule of Law