Türkdoğan: Worst period for human rights in Turkey

IHD Co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan: “We are experiencing the worst period for human rights. We are facing developments that never should have happened in a country that claims it’s democratic.”

Human Rights Association (Insan Hakları Derneği – IHD) Co-chairs Eren Keskin and Öztürk Türkdoğan met with the press in a breakfast in Cezayir Conference Hall. IHD Deputy Co-chair Gülseren Yoleri and Executive Committee members Mukaddes Şamiloğlu, Osman İşçi, Selahattin Okçuoğlu and Hatice Kalpaklı were also in the meeting.

IHD Co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan called Turkey’s current situation an “autocracy” and said that Turkey is governed by a de facto presidential system. Türkdoğan pointed out that Turkey is being governed by an administrative model outside its constitution and added: “This actually shows that democracy has been shelved. We are experiencing the worst period for human rights. We are facing developments that never should have happened in a country that claims it’s democratic.”

Türkdoğan said IHD pushed for a democratic Constitution since the day it was founded, and added: “Until the Constitution in Turkey brings freedom of expression and gender equality, until it solves the Kurdish issue, until it brings true freedom of faith and religion, it is not possible for us to support such propositions. The constitutional amendment proposed today will not only not solve these problems, but it will make them more chronic and turn the administration absolutely autocratic. We state once more that we don’t support this. Other than the eclipse of reason, we are talking about an absolutely irrational constitutional amendment. This is a group of people pushing their political stance on all of us.”

Türkdoğan also pointed out the following: “The dialogue started, but it never could turn into negotiations. On one hand, there is the ongoing war, and on the other, there are the amendments that will guarantee the administrators themselves. The most important issue Turkey is facing is the Kurdish issue. The political power doesn’t want there to be a discussion on peace. This is unacceptable. Thus, we have to continue talking about peace under such conditions. In this sense, we will continue our efforts.

Do you know that there are 12 soldiers and police officers PKK is holding hostage now? The President announced this as 31. The detention time for these people is getting longer and longer. There is no explanation on this matter by the political power. Think of a country that is as insensitive as this about their own officers. We have shown initiative to ensure these people are released and a return to peace.”

“Currently, we are under the State of Emergency rule. It is pretty unlawful. Definitions outside our punishment and discipline legislation were brought in with the Statutory Decrees. The political power can define whatever framework they want,” said Öztürk Özdoğan and stressed that the Council of Europe should object these Statutory Decrees. Türkdoğan added that the tolerance the Council of Europe shows Turkey causes an increase in rights violations.

Türkdoğan also touched upon the detentions and arrests targeting the Peoples’ Democratic People (Halkların Demokratik Partisi – HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (Demokratik Bölgeler Partisi – DBP) and said: “There are close to 5 thousand arrested politicians. In Turkey, if you are aligned with the governing party, there is the will of the people, but if you’re in the opposition, there is no will of the people. The will of the Kurd is void, but the will of AKP voters is valid.” Türkdoğan stated that the pressure on the Kurdish politicians should be lifted.

Türkdoğan also spoke on the referendum process and said they foresee that the referendum will be held under strict “security” precautions with police and soldiers stockpiled. Türkdoğan warned that these extreme precautions may be provocative and stated that they will be election observers as an association in places with their branches and representatives, and that they will invite international committees.

Türkdoğan said the election process should be observed and added: “What we want is the referendum to be held in an atmosphere of ballot safety, and the election observation obstacle to be lifted for NGOs.”

Speaking after, IHD Co-chair Eren Keskin pointed out the rights violations in prisons and said: “Especially, cameras are set up in women’s wards. They can’t even fulfill their private needs.” Keskin stated that the most fundamental problem in Turkey is militarism and continued: “Militarism doesn’t mean that the soldiers are in government. It means it is organized in every aspect of life. Up to now, I have never seen a period of time when militarism was so widespread in society.”

Türkdoğan answered the question “What will happen when the outcome of the referendum is Yes or No?” and said: “Turkey will enter a new era. The peace table will certainly be set up to solve the Kurdish issue. Because this is now imposing itself and has become an international problem. If the outcome is Yes, or if it’s No, Turkey’s new constitution will be written at the peace table. This constitution is a move by the government. I believe in Turkey’s peoples’ commitment to democracy.”

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