Eight people were killed in unsolved murders in Turkey in 2019, according to an annual report on rights violations in the country prepared by the Human Rights Association (İHD).
According to the association, 2019 was a year marred by severe limitations on most basic rights, including right to expression, assemble, association and demonstration, with the judiciary being the leading tool of pressure.
“The last five years have become a period that the regime became increasingly authoritarian and the official ideology is being attempted to brought to life fully,” the İHD said in the report released on May 5.
Unsolved murders were a grave problem in the country in the 1990s, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) taking pride in ending them after coming to power. However, the report showed that the problem is far from over.
The association said that 1,477 people claimed to have been subjected to torture or mistreatment during detention or places outside of it.
‘State of emergency in place in practice’
Some 1,344 demonstrations and assemblies were dispersed by police, with 3,935 people saying that they were subjected to beating and mistreatment during these police interventions.
“The 2019 rights violations report shows that the struggle for human rights and democracy will increasingly continue,” the report said, adding that the state of emergency imposed after the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt is still ongoing in practice.
“The emergency regime began on July 21, 2016 and was ended on July 19, 2018. However, with the law numbered 7,145 that entered into force on July 31, 2018, the state of emergency was actually extended for three more years. So, the year 2019 was a year that the state of emergency continued,” the report said, referring to the law that critics slam for violating human rights via making the emergency rule practices permanent.
The association criticized the appointment of trustees to municipalities run by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), saying that the move became the most distinct trait of the authoritarian regime for its disregard to voters’ choices.
ECHR rulings not abided by
Slamming the fact that former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and prominent businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala were not released despite immediate release rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the association also criticized the ECHR for trying to prevent receiving cases from Turkey via pointing to the country’s top court.
Security forces killed nine people and wounded 16 others in extrajudicial executions or over disobeying stop warnings, the report said, adding that three people, including a child, and two children were killed as a result of being hit by armored vehicles.
“At least 17 people died suspiciously during military service and five others were wounded,” it also said.
The report painted a grave picture of the situation in prisons. According to the İHD, at least 69 people died and four others were wounded in prisons over several reasons, including illness, suicide and violence.
Immense increase in the number of prisoners
The association also drew attention to the overcrowding in prisons.
“According to the Justice Ministry data, on Dec. 31, 2002, there were 59,429 prisoners when the AKP came to power. According to the ministry’s statement in December 2019, there are 294,000 convicts and inmates in 355 prisons,” the report read.
“There are 3,100 child convicts and inmates in prisons. A total of 780 children have to stay alongside their mothers in jails,” it added.