UN criticizes Turkey for rights violations under emergency rule
Routine extensions of the state of emergency in Turkey have led to profound human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of people, United Nations Human Rights Office said in its 2017 report on Turkey.
The report said that thousands face human rights violations from arbitrary deprivation of the right to work and to freedom of movement, to torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and infringements of the rights to freedom of association and expression.
The report, which covers the period between 1 January and 31 December 2017, warns that the state of emergency has facilitated the deterioration of the human rights situation and the erosion of the rule of law in Turkey, and may “have long-lasting implications on the institutional and socio-economic fabric of Turkey.”
“The numbers are just staggering: nearly 160,000 people arrested during an 18-month state of emergency; 152,000 civil servants dismissed, many totally arbitrarily; teachers, judges, and lawyers dismissed or prosecuted; journalists arrested, media outlets shut down and websites blocked – clearly the successive states of emergency declared in Turkey have been used to severely and arbitrarily curtail the human rights of a very large number of people,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
The report also states that about 300 journalists have been arrested on the grounds that their publications contained “apologist sentiments regarding terrorism” or other “verbal act offenses” or for “membership” in terrorist organizations. Over 100,000 websites were reportedly blocked in 2017, including a high number of Kurdish websites and satellite TV channels.
The report also noted continued allegations of human rights violations specific to Kurdish region which include killings, torture, violence against women, the excessive use of force, destruction of housing and cultural heritage, prevention of access to emergency medical care, safe water and livelihoods, and severe restrictions of the right to freedom of expression.
Turkey has consistently failed to conduct credible criminal investigations into the civilian deaths that occurred in the context of the 2015-2016 security operations in the South-East, the report states. According to the Ministry of Defence, between July 2015 and June 2017, 10,657 “terrorists were neutralized.” Lack of clarity over the meaning of the word “neutralized” is cause for deep concern, High Commissioner Zeid said, calling on the authorities to provide detailed information about the fate of these individuals.
“I urge the Government of Turkey to ensure that these allegations of serious human rights violations are investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice,” the High Commissioner said. “I again call on the Government to grant my Office full and unfettered access to be able to directly, independently and objectively assess the human rights situation in the South-East of the country.”