Report: At least 30 female journalists detained, 16 of them jailed under Turkey’s rule of emergency

Pro-Kurdish HDP deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu

At least 30 female journalist were detained under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and 16 female journalists are still in Turkish prisons, said a report released by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu.

Kerestecioğlu, who is a lawyer and also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has presented a report titled “Women’s Rights Violations in Turkey” at the meeting of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the PACE on Monday.

Stating that the rights and achievements made in the field of women’s rights are under threat in Turkey, the report stated that “Especially after the coup attempt, the declared state of emergency and the policies that nourish violence have affected the life of the women negatively.”

According to the report, women constituted at least 19.6 percent (19,774) of the 100,797 public employees who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency.

The report has stated that “Economic freedoms of women who have struggled for years to gain their economic independence have been taken from their hands. They are forced to live dependent on their parents, their spouses, their fathers. Moreover, they are having difficulty finding another job because they are smeared. Dismissed women lose their social security. They are forced to live under the social security of their family members or their spouses or to work unregistered. They bear the burden of not being able to meet the needs of both themselves and their children economically.”

The report has also underlined that 11 women’s associations and 1 children rights association were closed under the rule of emergency and added that “35 female mayors were arrested. The acquisitions gained by women’s participation in the local administrations were destroyed by the actions of the trustees.”

Turkish government has replaced elected The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) mayors with politically appointed “trustees” in municipalities of Southeast Turkey in September 2016. Trustees are appointed to the 3 AKP, 1 MHP and 81 DBP municipalities.

The report also stated that 864 female judges and prosecutors were dismissed from their duties. With the dismissals, the women’s existence within the judiciary became weaker.

“Women who were taken into custody and arrested claimed that they have been tortured and ill-treated. Not only the women who are taken into custody with charges of attempting military coup; all detained women were subjected to treatment incompatible with human dignity on the grounds of the rule of emergency,” read the report.

The report has added that “After the coup attempt, religious leaders and the supporters of the government used sexist rhetoric. On the one hand the images of the women who opposed the coup attempt in the streets were broadcast, on the other hand some religious communities declared that women should sit at home and pray and that men would support the government against coup plotters. Expressions such as ‘Coup plotters’ wives are prize for us’ were used for the wives of detainees accused of involvement in the coup attempt.”

During the conflicts that began in July 2015 in the provinces where Kurdish citizens live, and following curfews imposed by government, hundreds of citizens lost their lives, were injured, subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Throughout the curfews, citizens’ access to food, nutrition, health and education has been hampered and people have been left to die.

The report underlined that “In the conflict process, the most serious human rights violations are directed against women and children. The bodies of women who were killed in this period were exhibited by law enforcement forces, corpses were kept in the street for days, families were prevented from participating in the funeral ceremonies, sexist writings were made on the streets and walls of houses. Citizens returning to their homes after the curfews, declared that law enforcement forces entered their bedrooms, women’s underwear were displayed consciously and that used condoms were left in the bedrooms.”

Reminding that 5 out of 9 deputies of the HDP in jail are women, the report stated that “These deputies who defend gender equality in the parliament and who are fighting for women’s rights are kept in prison with the charges such as ‘inciting people to hatred and enmity’ and ‘making terrorist propaganda’ due to speeches they had delivered.

The report has also stated that in the first 7 months of 2017, men killed 170 women and girls, raped 50 women, harassed 126 women, sexually abused 215 women and 237 women were subjected to violence across Turkey.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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