On Sept. 29, when Turkey’s UPR adoption took place, Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) postponed its decision to review Osman Kavala’s appeal. Law experts pointed out that the AYM had no lawful, logical explanation to do so. It turned out that Istanbul prosecutors had submitted a new indictment against Kavala, who has been imprisoned for 1,066 days.
The Kavala case alone is sufficient to understand how politically biased, or submissive the Turkish courts are. There are many more; against the ECHR rulings, HDP former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and writer Ahmet Altan are still imprisoned. Thousands of people are detained without legal grounds. And Turkey refuses to make any changes on the “anti-terror law.”
Yet Turkey continues to boasts about its judicial reforms, how it respects human rights. It even boasts about its “zero tolerance policy” on torture.
As Western attention has given up on Turkey’s human rights record, many might actually believe that things are getting better. But they’re getting worse. Just two days ago, a Kurdish villager died after being thrown from a military helicopter. He wasn’t worth the news in the Turkish media.
This brings us back to the Universal Periodic Preview (UPR) adoption: The human rights record of every UN member is examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR Working Group and Turkey had to respond to the review that took place in January 2020.
According to the International Observatory of Human Rights, 321 adoptions were put forward, and Turkey rejected 19 of them on the grounds that they were “politically motivated” and claimed 302 had been “carefully examined’. Turkish authorities said they had either supported or implemented another 216 or were in the process of implementing them.
Below are some of the recommendations that were made by member states and Turkey’s responses of “supported” and “implemented” along with my notes (italic).
- “Condem hate speech and hate crimes”: Hate speech is not tolerated in Turkey. Any acts of hate crimes are diligently investigated. Awareness-raising trainings on these issues are organized for public personnel.
Hate speech is not tolerated if it concerns the Turkish President, the regime, or its policies. However, hate speech is used by the regime and its supporters and is not investigated at all. Pro-government media uses hate speech on a daily basis against minorities, women, the LGBTI community and Western countries. (Hrant Dink Foundation’s latest report on Media Watch on Hate Speech has not been translated yet. Here is their report from May-August 2019: https://hrantdink.org/en/asulis-en/publications/75-media-watch-on-hate-speech-reports/2377-media-watch-on-hate-speech-may-august-2019)
- Ensure that anti-terrorism and the defamation legislation do not interfere with freedom of opinion and expression to enable the work of journalists, artists, academics and human rights defenders:
“Supported, already implemented.”
In 2019, Turkish journalist Pelin Ünker was convicted of “insulting a public official” and “libel” over its 2017 reporting of “Paradise Papers” leaks in the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet.
The Turkish President has sued more than 17,000 people for what he describes as insults to the president, with more than5,000 convicted.
And here is the US State Department 2019 report on anti-terror law in Turkey.
- Ensure the media can operate freely without interference or censorship.
Again, the response is “Supported. Already implemented.” By that, the Turkish regime probably refers to the media which it directly controls. 90 percent of media ownership is by dominated by government linked companies and groups. Even before the coup attempt, censorship and government interference was a daily, common occurrence.
- End the arbitrary arrests of media professionals, civil society activists, academics, and so many others for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms. End the discrimination against members of religious minority groups.
Turkey’s response: Noted. Regardless of their profession or status, no one is arbitrarily arrested. Religious minorities in Turkey enjoy their rights without any discrimination in line with national and international law.
No one is arbitrarily arrested? Kavala, Demirtaş, Altan are “no one.’ All the HDP politicians and activists, students, lawyers, civil servants that were arrested are also “no one.”
And religious minorities enjoy their rights so freely that they have no fear in telling they are Armenian, Christian, Jewish. A Syriac couple went missing in January, 2020. The wife’s body was found but Hürmüz Diril is still missing.
- Take appropriate measures to protect freedom of expression, assembly and association, as well as to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for civil society organizations, human rights defenders and journalists, including by defining the limitations to fundamental freedoms in compliance with international obligations…
Supported. Already implemented!
Almost every peaceful protest is either banned beforehand or brutally raided by police force. Just a few quick examples: Saturday Mothers are taken under custody.
The list on how Turkey implements and supports human rights goes on forever. If anyone wants to amuse herself/himself, read daily news from Turkey. Any news.