Rights Advocates Demand Concrete Measures 

Civil Pages discussed the government's Human Rights Action Plan announced in early March with Hülya Gülbahar from Equality Watch Women's Group, Mehmet Arif Koçer from the Rights Initiative, and Tarık Beyhan from Amnesty International, who emphasized that domestic law already has certain positive elements, especially ECHR resolutions -as mentioned in the action plan-, and that the government must instead take concrete measures to be credible.

Tarık Beyhan, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns and Communication, stated that, “The first thing we can say about the plan is that we must see concrete steps.” Referring to the long detention of Osman Kavala and Ahmet Altan, Beyhan said, “We want to see an end to such practices. Then the government must eliminate the ambiguity around the concept of ‘terror’ and stop using the accusation of terrorism to intimidate the opposition. Most importantly, human rights should not change from one person to the next. International law and legal standards clearly state which rights can be restricted, and in what way and on what grounds. We immediately want to see everyone within this country enjoy the same level of rights and freedoms. This plan looks like a statement of goodwill. But we want to see how it is implemented.” 

‘The Government Must Implement these Concepts to be Seen as Sincere’

Hülya Gülbahar of Equality Watch Women’s Group underlined that the action plan is not in keeping with the day to day government policies. Commenting on the action plan’s articles on violence against women, Hülya Gülbahar stated that the emphasis on Law no. 6284 was important, but actually it is the government itself which has virtually made the law inapplicable. Indicating that there is no need to pass a specific law to provide lawyers for women suffering from violence, Gülbahar stated, “This promise is not realistic, given the fact that currently, women’s organizations’ demand to participate in legal cases, even femicides, is rejected.” 

‘The Government Should Accept its Errors’

President of the Rights Initiative Association, Mehmet Arif Koçer indicated that the judiciary system must be freed from political pressure, and added, “The judiciary must truly be freed from the influence of the executive branch. The judiciary should no longer be used as an instrument to take revenge on political opponents, the government should stop making declarations on legal cases, and a general amnesty should be issued for all prisoners and convicts. These would be the first steps towards social harmony.”