Turkey’s Erdoğan says he stands with the oppressed of the world

As he continues a massive purge and witch-hunt against his opponents, Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a message for Human Rights Day that he will continue to support the oppressed and victims all over the world, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“We will continue to be with all oppressed people and victims from Palestine to Syria and Asia to Africa,” Erdoğan said in a message on the occasion of Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

“Respect for human rights based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of individuals before the law is the irreplaceable nature of the Republic of Turkey,” he added.

However, a joint declaration, released by the Human Rights Association (İHD) and Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) on Sunday, has stated that “Turkey has violated Article 15 of the Constitution, Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and Article 4 of the United Nations Civil Code. The current state of emergency regime has not been following any of the aforementioned rules,”  referring to articles of the Turkish Constitution that guarantee basic human rights and also regulate the conditions and framework of any state of emergency.

“The fatal thing is that basic and core laws have been blatantly violated,” it added.

The state of emergency was declared shortly after Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt, and has been widely criticized for widespread violations of human rights and encouraging impunity.

“[The state of emergency rule] has exceeded the initial reason it was declared for and has reached a permanent state. Because decree laws have been declared on almost every subject, changing existing legislation … the effects of emergency rule will continue for years,” the statement read.

“International legal supervision has become futile with the Constitutional Court’s decision [to rule out state of emergency decrees from its jurisdiction], while international legal supervision has lost its centrality,” it added.

The human rights groups has stated that since 2016 around 300 laws has been altered with emergency rule decrees, 169,013 people have been taken into custody, and 50,510 have been arrested.

It also noted that 11 deputies are currently in jail, five former lawmakers have been stripped of their deputy status, 113,440 public officers have been dismissed from their duties, and 22,474 people’s work permits have been cancelled. Some 4,240 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and only 166 of them have been reinstated to their posts, the statement read.

Erdoğan’s message came amid non-stop oppression against his opponents including Kurds and people affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement. According to figures released by the Turkish Interior Ministry a total of 5,747 people were detained in the October-November period for links to the movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of mounting a coup attempt in July 2016, but the movement strongly denies any involvement.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), 17,000 women have been jailed along with about 700 children over alleged links to Gülen movement.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.

According to a report released by the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) on Saturday, 2,278 people were tortured and 11 abducted in Turkey during the first 11 months of 2017.

Security forces killed 36 people and wounded 12 in extrajudicial killings and by firing arbitrarily into a crowd on the pretext that they did not obey an order to stop during the January to November period.

A total of 695 people including 183 soldiers, 460 militants and 52 civilians were killed and 310 injured during clashes in Turkey.

At least 322 women and 68 children died as a result of domestic violence in the country in 2017.

As of Nov. 1, there were 230,735 people in Turkish prisons, including 1,037 with health problems. The prison population numbered 178,089 in 2015 and 154,179 in 2014.

Meanwhile, İbrahim Halil Baran, chairman of the Partiya Kurdistani (PAKURD), on Monday refuted Human Rights Day remarks made by Erdoğan that no massacres, oppression or torture had taken place in Turkish history, saying he was tortured during the 13 days he was in detention.

“Tayyip Erdoğan said, ‘There is no torture in Turkey.’ I am declaring it here: I was tortured for 13 days. There is systematic torture in Turkey. The lower two floors of the Urfa [province] counterterrorism headquarters is a torture center. I can identify the police who tortured me,” Baran tweeted.

“Ercüment Türkmek, the police chief, personally runs the torture. Doctors write reports without seeing detainees; prosecutors reject petitions, citing a lack of grounds for legal action; and judges refuse to register torture accusations, saying ‘Do not tell me about the lawlessness of the police,” added Baran.

Baran, who was detained on Jan. 11, 2017 and arrested on Jan. 23, 2017 for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization and insulting President Erdoğan, was released on April 11 under due process.

Deutsche Welle (DW) has also reported that environmentalists, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and volunteers pay a terribly high price for their work protecting and upholding human rights. Front Line Defenders estimates that 281 human rights activists were killed worldwide in 2016 — almost twice as many as in 2015. It is likely that the true number is much higher, with many cases going unreported. The fate of many who have disappeared remains forever unknown. And there is no evidence to suggest that the 2017 figure will be any lower.

During a video talk marking the publication of the World Report 2017 from Human Rights Watch, HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said that the global rise of populist politicians exacerbated the already grave situation: “They all have in common the claim to speak for the majority, and to claim that majority wants rights violated in the name of securing jobs or avoiding cultural change, or protecting against terrorism.” Roth added: “We’ve seen this show before. In the last century, various communist and fascist governments also claimed to speak for the majority, and then visited enormous repression on their people.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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