TURKEY: ARBITRARY MASS DETENTIONS AS AN INSTRUMENT OF CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

That authoritarian regimes intimidate, threaten or even carry out (or commission) assassinations against critical voices is no secret.

Silencing opposition or disagreeable figures such as journalists, human rights activists is of immense importance to autocrats and dictators for whom they are a thorn in the flesh. They are a threat to the arbitrariness of these rulers. The rulers have various apparatuses at their disposal to meet their aspirations in this regard.

One of these instruments, which the Turkish state implements today, is the mass wave of arrests, which is mainly directed at the Gülen movement.

Since 2014, the Turkish state apparatus has been targeting the Gülen movement and its sympathizers. One of the main tools used by the Turkish security authorities and judiciary is the daily waves of arbitrary arrests of people accused of being inspired by Gülen.

In total, more than 6,140 waves of mass arrests were carried out between 2014 and 2022, and more than 140,000 people were detained. On average, up to 60 people are detained every day in at least three operations.

In addition, we observe that more and more people are arrested for humanitarian aid. For example, on October 18, 2022, a new stage of unlawful arrests was initiated against 704 people -men, women, young and old- on the grounds that they were “trying to help the families of those in prison or released from prison”. This has unfortunately been the case for more than 3 years regarding the Gülen movement.

In our HRDfactsheet we have summarized facts and figures why this is to be judged as a crime against humanity and made various recommendations to remedy these human rights violations.

Die Weltweite Hexenjagd

Nirgends sicher vor Präsident Erdogan und seinem Machtapparat

Dass autoritäre Regime kritische Stimmen auch im Ausland einschüchtern, bedrohen oder gar gegen diese Attentate ausüben (oder in Auftrag geben) ist kein Geheimnis.

 

Oppositionelle oder unliebsame Persönlichkeiten wie Exiljournalisten grenzüberschreitend zum Schweigen zu bringen, ist für Autokraten und Diktatoren, denen sie ein Dorn im Auge sind, von immenser Bedeutung. Sie sind eine Gefahr für die Willkür in den jeweiligen Heimatländern. Die Machthaber verfügen über verschiedene Apparate, um ihren diesbezüglichen Bestrebungen nachzukommen. Wir stellen auch fest, dass Regierungen, die für grenzüberschreitende Unterdrückung bekannt sind, sich gegenseitig dabei unterstützen, Aktivisten und andere Exilanten einzuschüchtern, zu belästigen und zu schädigen.

 

Die grenzüberschreitende Repressionskampagne des türkischen Staates ist nicht nur wegen ihrer Intensität in den letzten Jahren, sondern auch wegen ihrer geographischen Ausdehnung im negativen Sinne bemerkenswert. In dem Maße, in dem sich die Türkei unter Präsident Erdoğan immer mehr zu einem gefestigten autoritären Staat entwickelt hat, in dem sich die überwältigende Macht im Präsidentenamt konzentriert, ist auch die Praxis der grenzüberschreitenden Repression extremer geworden.

 

Die türkische Regierung hat in ihren transnationalen Repressionsoperationen vor allem zwei Gruppen im Visier: die PKK, im weiteren Sinne regierungskritische Kurdinnen und Kurden, sowie die Gülen-Bewegung – und damit auch deren Sympathisantinnen und Sympathisanten.

In unserem HRDpaper werden wir die Politik und die Methoden der AKP-Regierung und Präsident Erdogans im Zusammenhang mit der kürzlich aktualisierten „Fahndungsliste für mutmaßliche Terroristen“ des türkischen Innenministeriums unter die Lupe nehmen. Wie Sie sehen werden, finden sich auf den aktualisierten, farblich kodierten Listen nun auch Exil-Journalisten wie Cevheri Güven und Can Dündar. Auch deutsche StaatsbürgerInnen, die hier geboren, aufgewachsen, studiert und beruflich erfolgreich sind, stehen auf der Liste.

 

Türkei & Interpol : Fakten und Erkenntnisse

THE TERM OF THE INQUIRY COMMISSION ON THE STATE OF EMERGENCY MEASURES (ICSEM) IS ENDING

The closure of the ICSEM is important, but there is no concrete change in favor of the victims...

The ICSEM, has taken away people’s faith in the law. In some cases, the ICSEM did not recognize the decision of the Constitutional Court, for example the prominent cases of the ‘Peace Academics’ who were dismissed for signing the ‘Peace Declaration’ were not reinstated.

Furthermore, the ICSEM, committed a constitutional violation and the right for a fair trial was usurped for six years. The abolition of the ICSEM will not fix anything. The ICSEM made many decisions based on the ‘opinion of the institution’. Now those institutions will take judicial action. What really needs to be solved is for citizens to have the right to a fair trial.  The institutional opinion is scandalous from the beginning. It is not clear who is authorized to issue this “institutional opinion”. It is an abstract evaluation. Now the Government is authorizing the institutions that gave those opinions, not to mention that there is no legal definition for the “institutional opinion” in the law.

Closing the ICSEM after 6 years and reassigning it to institutions will prolong the process even more. Institutions will also create a new unit for the files they have received. 6 years of unlawfulness of the ICSEM will be continued within the Ministries or relevant State Departments.

Unless there is a change in the understanding, it does not make much difference whether the ICSEM is abolished or handed over to the Ministries.

The judicial process needs to be accelerated. For 7 years, there are decisions pending in administrative courts. Not only the commission but also the administrative and appeal courts are politicized. Whatever the ICSEM decides, the courts make subjective decisions without any legal evaluation. The closure of the ICSEM is important, but there is no concrete change in favor of the victims.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ON THE GREEK-TURKISH BORDER

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day 2022 we are publishing our new Report: Human Rights Violations on the Greek-Turkish Border & Testimonies of Push Back Victims. 

This report has been prepared to draw attention to the human rights violations that are occurring on the Turkish-Greek border, with a special focus on Turkish asylum seekers, who are trying to take refuge in European countries, fleeing from the AKP Government of the Republic of Turkey, which has recently become increasingly authoritarian. Turkey is gradually moving away from contemporary and institutional democratic values1,2 and is increasingly turning into a kleptocratic authoritarian country that is ruled by the oppression and unlawful practices of the AKP government. Treatment of dissident groups, especially that against members of the Gülen movement, Alevis and Kurds, has become intolerable. According to statistical data, since 2015, 2 million citizens have been investigated on the grounds of their membership of a terrorist organization. Furthermore, nearly 125,000 public officials have been dismissed from their duties, and 4,500 judges and prosecutors were summarily dismissed after the coup attempt in 20163. Executive control and political influence over the judiciary in Turkey has led to courts systematically accepting bogus indictments, detaining and convicting, without compelling evidence of criminal activity, individuals and groups that the Erdoğan government regards as political opponents4. This concern is also mentioned in the European Commission’s Turkey 2021 Report, in its country evaluation, under the section “Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights”5 . Furthermore, the United Nations (“UN”) Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has underlined the following: “The Working Group expresses grave concern about the pattern established by all these [FETO related] cases […] may constitute crimes against humanity”. It is worth emphasizing here that, under its decision, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention not only found those measures to be illegal, but also considered them to be a “crime against humanity”6. Since they are not allowed to receive treatment, many prisoners have to try to survive, under difficult conditions, in prisons, and they cannot access adequate health services. People who belong to groups that are considered to be in opposition to the AKP Government under President Erdoğan are found guilty of completely legal acts, such as subscribing to certain newspapers and/ or magazines, being members of certain unions, associations, and foundations, making donations to specific social institutions, or even merely due to the schools that they attended. Opposition members living in Turkey, who find it hard to survive in these harsh conditions, are trying to seek political asylum in European countries by crossing to Greece via the Aegean Sea or the River Maritsa. These people are not economic refugees, but political refugees, who are seen as being enemies by Erdogan’s government. Although international human rights documents grant legal protection to persons with political refugee status, and although Greece, like all other European democracies, has ratified these agreements and included them in its domestic legal code, we are witnessing more frequent push back incidents on the Greek – Turkish border, such actions thus ending with the imprisonment of most Turkish asylum seekers, who are being pushed back into Turkish territory and into the hands of the Turkish security forces. As a result of this, they are being sentenced to prison in Turkey after they are caught. This report has been prepared in order to draw attention to the situations of those political refugees who are fleeing from Turkey, which is happening alongside the problem that Greece has been facing caused by economic migrants from the Middle East who are seeking asylum in EU countries. The current point that has been reached in the migrant crisis has been documented with the testimonies of the victims of these events and their close relatives, and the resulting texts speak of Greece’s concern to protect its borders, the legal situation and the guarantees made by international human rights documents and conventions for political refugees, the severe human rights violations that are experienced by Turkish political refugees, and the push-back experiences of those same asylum seekers who have tried to take refuge in Greece. Chapter 1: Executive Summary & Methodology 2 While there have been Turkish citizens who have drowned and lost their lives7 during these push-back events, there have even been people who, although they were citizens of European countries or had the legal right to reside in European countries8, were still pushed back into Turkey in violation of UN and European human rights accords. These include victims who are citizens of EU countries, such as Germany or France, who were not allowed to leave Turkey by legal means, and who, as a result, crossed the Turkish-Greek border by clandestine means in order to take refuge in Greece, and who were then pushed back into Turkey At the end of this report, we have tried to propose a humane migrant crisis management process by including suggestions that fall within the framework of the guarantees that have been brought by international law and universal human rights documents. This report has been prepared jointly by nongovernmental human rights organizations that are located in the European Union countries and in the United States of America. 

METHODOLOGY 

The events and narratives in this report have been prepared by interviewing victims who have experienced push-back from Greece into Turkey. Information about the identities of those people who are involved in the events that are mentioned in the report are kept confidential, and in the case that there is any international investigation or research, the identity and contact information relating to these victims will be shared with the relevant authorities. Some of the victims were able to evade capture by the Turkish security forces upon their forced return, but the majority of those Turkish citizens who have been pushed back over the border have been detained by Turkish security forces, and have eventually been arrested and incarceratedby the courts. The majority of these victims are still imprisoned. Based on letters that these victims have written from prison, or the letters and documents that they have sent to their relatives, all the events have been turned into written documents. A certain number of victims, after being pushed back during their first border crossing attempt, were finally successful as a result of their 2nd or 3rd attempts to cross the border did not have the consequence of their being caught and pushed back. Part of the narrative in this report is based on the testimonies of those people who were able to reach European countries without being caught by the Turkish and Greek security forces, and who have achieved residency status in Europe as a result of family reunification decisions. During the preparation of the report, the testimonies of those lawyers in Greece who represented political refugees from Turkey were also consulted. Above all, we would like to thank Rana Özcelik form the European Justice Initiative, who helped us in conducting the interviews. This report was written by Lawyers, Political Scientists and Journalists in both Europe and the United States. Dr. Mustafa Yasar Demircioglu HRD e.V. Law Commission

 

The Report in German Language: 

Hexenjag auf die Gülen – Bewegung

Seit 2014 geht der türkische Staatsapparat gezielt gegen die Gülen Bewegung und

dessen Sympathisanten vor. Eins der wichtigsten Instrumente, welches von den türkischen

Sicherheitsbehörden und der Justiz benutzt wird, sind die täglichen Wellen von willkürlichen

Verhaftungen von Menschen, denen vorgeworfen wird, von Gülen inspiriert zu sein.

Insgesamt wurden seit 2014 mehr als 5.830 Massen-Verhaftungswellen1 durchgeführt und mehr

als 134.000 Menschen festgenommen. Durchschnittlich werden täglich in mindestens drei

Operationen bis zu 70 Personen inhaftiert. Als HRD e.V. präsentieren wir hier unser neues Bericht dass auch in Englisch. 

TURKEY: STATE OF EMERGENCY INQUIRY COMMISSION (SoEC)

Nor Independent, Nor Impartial: An Obstacle To Access To Justice




REPORT: NO COUNTRY FOR PURGE VICTIMS

Lives of the purge victims are in shambles three and half years after the end of the state of emergency

Purged civil servants in Turkey and their next of kins are being discriminated against and blacklisted from public programmes and applying for new jobs.

 

The Arrested Lawyers Initiative and Human Rights Defenders e.V documented at least 30 types discriminatory practices denting the sacked officials’ ability to work in an attack on their livelihoods in their new report titled No Country for Purge Victims.

 

Besides being sacked from their positions these practices are affecting all aspects of their social and economic lives including areas such as care allowance insurance, disability subsidies, tax concessions and the right to work.

 

The report reveals that purged civil servants are blacklisted in the databases of the Employment and the Social Security Agencies and consequently in all of the databases of all public and quasi-public entities – how these people were dismissed under an Emergency Decree is also recorded in such databases.

 

Besides having been blacklisted, circulars and dictums published by various public entities ban the purge victims from either participating in public programmes such as employment courses, benefitting tax concessions or scholarships, acquiring a new profession, or working in the most basic jobs such as school bus driver.

 

In addition, purged civil servants cannot be foster families or even worse have their adopted child taken away from them, plus purged civil servants are also discriminated against in relation to Covid-19 economic relief and natural disaster aid.

 

The report finds that these indefinite secondary sanctions constitute a penalty under Article 7 of ECHR.

 

Turkey’s ad hominem dismissal decrees may be characterized as a penalty, rather than a temporary measure in light of: (i) the scope and severity of consequences of dismissals and its perpetual status (explained in the first blog post); (ii) that dismissals entail deprivations heavier than those for a convicted felon; (iii)  that dismissals do not comply with PACE Resolution 1096 and the Guideline on Lustration; and (iv) ECtHR’s case law on the definition of punishment within the meaning of Art 7 § 1 of the ECHR.

 

In conclusion, the report reveals how the basic fabric of daily life is being denied to those officials that have been dismissed.

 

“Even opening a bank account becomes a difficult challenge as laws are tailored to make it inaccessible to them. While military service, whose structure is clearly defined in laws, is imposed on purge victims in different ways, in clear departure from the procedure,” says the report.

 

The list of bans or practices, as documented by the report, illustrates the depth of agony and sufferings inflicted on sacked workers as private companies increasingly collaborate with authorities or act in fear of political backlash to deny the basic services to people in the post-coup era.

 

 

The report adds: “The emergency rule, more than one and a half years after its end, remains to be in place with dire consequences for its targeted population. This reality, often overlooked and ignored by observers, needs to be taken into account when analyzing the state of political and legal affairs in Turkey.”

 

Professor Helen Duffy (@HelenDuffy_HRP), Prof. of International Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at  Leiden University, Director of Human Rights in Practice:

Where vague and broad-reaching ’emergency’ measures are imposed without a clear legal framework, due process of law and effective remedies before independent courts, and  their effects are extended beyond the state of emergency to become the new normal, it is the death knell for a society governed by law. The implications of the purging of public sector workers, human rights defenders and others in Turkey are profound, for the full range of economic, social, civil and political rights of those directly affected and their families, for democracy and rule of law.

 Professor of law, Kerem Altıparmak (https://twitter.com/KeremALTIPARMAK)

Although state of emergency decrees are not, as far as the domestic law is concerned, the same as conviction handed out following criminal proceedings, they, as far as their implications are concerned, have even more serious implications than having been convicted and having served the sentence. This shows that having been purged by a state of emergency decree has, in terms of the nature of crime and its condemnability, very similar implications to that of being punished through criminal proceedings. This has nevertheless been carried out without a fair trial and without allowing the people concerned a right to defense. Since the enactment of first state of emergency decree, I have been arguing from the start that ad hominem listing of people in state of emergency laws is punishment in the sense of Article 6 of European Convention of Human Rights and I am in the opinion that no one may be punished as such without having a fair trial first. 

Professor of political science, Ümit Cizre (https://twitter.com/umitcizre)

Let us voice and support the struggle to remain alive of the victims of emergency decree laws who have truly been condemned to civil death through outright bans, deprivation of rights and discrimination. Those valued brothers and sisters of us have for years been in a heart-wrenching struggle to exist which should shake to the core even the most apolitical person. It is not possible to give them back what they might have already lost. All in all, what needs to be done is quite usual, natural and minimum: as individuals and the society as a whole, to demonstrate sensibility instead of “ignorance”; as politicians/political parties, press on with determined intervention and pressure.

 

A list of other discriminatory practices can be found below:

  1. Purged civil servants are blacklisted in the databases of the Employment and the Social Security Agencies with the code 36/OHAL/KHK
  2. Purged civil servants cannot be foster families
  1. Purged civil servants cannot be mayors, aldermen or mukhtars (a local elected administrator for villages).
  2. Purged civil servants cannot be lawyers
  3. Purged civil servants cannot be accountants
  4. Purged civil servants cannot work as architects, engineers, laboratory workers, or as technicians in building inspection companies
  5. Purged civil servants cannot attend vocational courses
  6. Purged civil servants cannot work in private educational institutions
  7. Purged civil servants cannot work as sailors
  8. Purged civil servants cannot work as on-site (workplace) doctors, or as occupational safety specialists.
  9. Purged civil servants are denied the licenses needed to run businesses.
  10. Purged civil servants who work as veterinarians cannot have an artificial insemination certificate and cannot perform their professional duties in agricultural support programs.
  11. The database of the General Directorate of the Land Registry (TAKBIS) includes a list of suspicious people which consists of those dismissed under emergency decrees. Those included on this list cannot participate in real estate transactions, either as a party (vendee or vendor) or as a witness.
  12. Upon an instruction by the Ministry of Justice, the Union of Turkish Public Notaries produced a list of suspicious people, which consists of those dismissed under emergency decrees. People included on this list cannot carry out any procedures as notaries, other than giving power of attorney. This means that they cannot carry out hundreds of legal procedures, including selling their cars or signing construction contracts.
  1. The database for the Social Relief Program (SOYBIS) includes a list of those who have been dismissed under emergency decrees. Disabled people whose first caregivers (such as parents, sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law) are dismissed under emergency decrees, cannot benefit from social care funds.
  1. Those dismissed under emergency decrees, and their spouses and children, cannot benefit from the General Health Insurance for people with a low income and from the social rights that are offered to disabled people.
  2. Purged public servants cannot have passports and travel documents.
  3. Purged public servants cannot open bank accounts and are discriminated against in financial transactions and procedures
  4. Purged public servants are discriminated against in regard to insurance services
  5. Purged public servants are discriminated against in relation to business development and incentive credits.
  6. Purged public servants are discriminated against in relation to mandatory military services
  7. Purged academics are discriminated against in academic publishing.
  8. Purged public servants cannot enter the exams for associate professorships.
  9. Purged public servants cannot receive science scholarships.
  10. Purged public servants and their families are discriminated against in relation to university admissions and tuition fees.
  11. Purged public servants cannot be school bus drivers.
  12. Purged public servants are discriminated against in taxation.
  13. Purged physicians (M.D.) are not admitted to programmes leading to specializations in medicine
  14. Purged public servants are discriminated against in relation to COVID19 economic reliefs.
  15. Purged public servants are discriminated against in terms of natural disaster aid.

UNLAWFULLNESS IN TURKEY

In this brochure; the violation of fundamental and

universal human rights such as the right to life, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to property and the right to a fair trial in Turkey are examined.

The findings in the brochure are presented chronologically, with

information compiled from reports of local and international institutions and open sources.

The study analyzes the period between 2013 – April 2021 to determine whether or not there is an independent and impartial judiciary and a fair trial in Turkey. Additionally, it reviews the outcomes of the political intervention in the judicial proceedings.

It also examines whether the current administration abuses the

international mechanisms to capture dissidents abroad and the

extradition requests lack legal basis and are politically motivated.

The data and examples published in the brochure have been selected among a large number of cases to show the whole framework.

Please use the link to get the full report: Unlawfulness in Turkey_Pages Final