Downward spiral of human rights is continuing in Turkey: German Foreign Office

In its human rights report, which was adopted by the government yesterday, the German Federal Foreign Office said the downward spiral of human rights in Turkey had continued even after a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of an abortive putsch was repealed in July 2018.

According to the report most of the regulations introduced with the state of emergency, including summary dismissals from the civil service, restrictions on freedom of assembly and lengthy detention periods were enacted into law. The Turkish government’s broad definition of terrorism continues to lead to human rights abuses.

Turkey experienced a controversial military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

During the two-year state of emergency that was declared after the abortive putsch, the authorities detained tens of thousands of people and purged more than 130,000 public servants and some 20,000 members of the armed forces from their jobs. The detainees included political opponents of the government, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders, among others. One hundred sixty-four media organizations and 1,769 NGOs were shut down with the emergency decrees.

The German Federal Foreign Office’s human rights report states that voices critical of the government continue to face the risk of prosecution and arrest. Government interference in cases with political significance raises doubts about the independence of the judiciary, the report said.

The report mentions the ousting of elected mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and says the government in effect did not respect the outcome of the 2019 local elections. Ankara accuses the HDP of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a secessionist Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

In terms of women’s rights, the report states that women are often significantly disadvantaged economically, socially and politically in Turkey. It underlines that according to the “Global Gender Gap Index” of the World Economic Forum, Turkey ranks 130th out of 153 countries.

The abysmal state of press freedom in Turkey, imprisonment of more than 100 journalists and investigations of critical content on social media are also mentioned in the report. It cites the 2020 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which described Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists” and ranked Turkey 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.

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