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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP calls on OSCE to Support Civil Participation in Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan

The annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting began in Warsaw on 28 September 2009.  Ahead of its conclusion tomorrow, today’s session will consider democratic institutions, including civil participation in the decision-making process in OSCE countries.

Despite Turkey’s ratification of international legal treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), KHRP is still concerned by the use of the Turkish Penal Code and anti-terror legislation to prosecute politicians for expressing non-violent opinion in their statements and remarks. As outlined in its ‘Protecting Politicians or Protecting Democracy?’ briefing paper in May of this year, attempts to close pro-Kurdish parties, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in 2007, the detention and investigation of hundreds of pro-Kurdish politicians and activists following local elections in March 2009, and the ability to remove politicians’ immunity without parliamentary vote, all highlight the need for further development of democratic governance in Turkey.

KHRP has repeatedly recommended amendments to Turkey’s existing legislation.  This is particularly so in regard to enabling arbitrary arrest, reviewing the power of the Chief Public Prosecutor in order to prevent politically motivated cases of party closures, restricting the criteria for the dissolution of political parties to use of violence or disturbance of civil peace, and restoring parliamentary oversight over removal of parliamentary immunity.

KHRP has also observed serious shortcomings in the democratic institutions in the Caucuses. In 2009 alone, the European Court of Human Rights delivered rulings in four-KHRP assisted cases concerning the arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and unfair trials of political activists detained on public order offences in Armenia.  In Azerbaijan, the arrest of members of KHRP’s partner organisations in the Campaign against the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in March, not to mention its still abysmal record on ensuring free and fair elections, as frequently criticised by OSCE election observers, remain pressing concerns.

‘If civil participation in the decision-making processes and transparent and democratic systems of governance in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia are to be assured, the OSCE and its participants must encourage these governments to put a stop to ongoing violations of the rights of their citizens to political representation, to free speech and to a fair trial,’ said KHRP Chief Executive, Kerim Yildiz.  ‘These abuses not only impact on the lives of ordinary citizens, but also defy many of the commitments that these governments have entered into as OSCE member states’.