The theme for the 2010 International Human Rights Day is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination. Human Rights Defenders across the Kurdish regions work on a daily basis to end discrimination, whether it is against Kurds, other cultural or linguistic minorities, religious or political minorities, women, or sexual minorities. Today, KHRP would like to remind everyone about just how difficult their work is and to applaud them for it.
In November 2010, KHRP submitted a shadow report to UN Committee against Torture regarding the situation in Turkey, outlining the most pressing human rights concerns in Turkey over the past four years. The report provided evidence that the Kurds suffer unduly from torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, and stressed that such human rights abuses are primarily a result of the culture of impunity that is entrenched in the Turkish criminal justice system. Consequently human rights defenders are targeted by the State for giving a voice to those that are being suppressed. Under Turkey’s draconian anti-terror legislation minorities are disproportionately arrested, detained and convicted as political prisoners, many of them suffering treatment which violates both CAT and other international human rights instruments to which Turkey is a party. Certain provisions of Turkey’s current legislation pave the way for systematic violations of freedom of expression and freedom of association. Such laws facilitate the interference in the efforts of human rights defenders to communicate legitimate criticism of the state and its representatives. Further, problems are posed by legislation specifically regulating the establishment and functioning of NGOs.
KHRP also submitted a report in December to the Human Rights Committee monitoring the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights concerning Iran. The report highlights how the Iranian authorities use arbitrary detention and prosecutions as a means of restricting or preventing the expression of views seen as a threat to the status quo. This particularly obstructs the work of journalists, human rights defenders, political and social activists, students, teachers and union leaders, large numbers of whom have fled Iran during the past year and live as refugees in neighboring Turkey.
KHRP Chief Executive Kerim Yildiz said today, “The vital work human rights defenders do, often at great personal risk, deserves the support and recognition of the international community. Without the determination and commitment that they give to fighting injustice and ending discrimination, many human rights violations against minority or other marginalized groups would be swept under the carpet.”