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Turkish (Turkiye)

Günal Kurşun is a Human Rights Defender

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Ass. Prof. Gűnal Kurşun, a well-known scholar in the field of International Criminal Law and Genocide studies teaching working at the Criminal Law Department of the Çukurova University in Adana and President of the Insan Hakları Gűndemi Derneği-Human Rights Agenda Association (IHGD-HRAA), member  of the IHOP-Human Rights Joint Platform, has been dismissed from his functions due to the New Statutory Decree n. 675, issued on October 29th.     

Since many years, Gűnal Kurşun is fighting for the respect of human rights and civil liberties, denouncing all forms of violence in an independent and impartial manner. A key figure in the human rights movement in Turkey, whose works and academic contributions range from women rights to Freedom of Expression, from minority rights to social, economic and cultural ones till his engagement within the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, his passion brought him  to choose to share his expertise in the field of human rights with new generations, in an attempt to provide his students with the relevant tools needed for the advancement of democracy in the country.

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No To Coups and Coup Defenders!

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Regardless of its reasons, coups cannot be a solution anytime. Last night, we’ve witnessed an attempt of a coup in Turkey. According to some releases, 161 people died, including 41 police officers, 2 soldiers and rest civilians after this coup attempt done by a group inside Turkish Armed Forces, naming themselves as “Peace at Home Council”. It is understood that there are more than hundred deaths among the coup siders. The parliament building has been bombed. Thousands of people have been injured. 

We are supporting a democracy in which all kinds of thinking can be defended and organised, non-violent, respecting freedom of expression and press, depending on the constitution and separation of powers, accountable, binding of the rule of law and human rights, respecting the free elections, establishing a peace atmosphere and performing with all its rules and institutions. There can be disturbance of any political thinking, but the solution can never be searched in such anti-democtaric methods, especially in coups.

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Urgent Call from Turkey’s Human Rights Organizations to the International Community

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With the interruption of the peace talks, the government of Turkey started, in mid-August, to implement a security policy that unlawfully restricts fundamental rights and freedoms in those cities and towns largely populated by Kurds. Since August 2015, long-term and consecutive curfews have been declared in the provinces of, and the towns attached to ŞırnakMardinDiyarbakırHakkari and Muş, and are still underway in certain cities and towns. During these prohibitions, national and international media, human rights or professional organizations as well as representatives of the parliament who wanted to identify violations of rights have been denied access to these cities and towns. According to the findings in reports drawn up by the very small number of civil society organizations which could make their way into the region in the face of huge obstacles, it has been determined that the civilian population has become the target of both snipers and heavy weaponry, which has been used  in an arbitrary fashion.

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Loss of a friend never easy

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I'm in Diyarbakır to fulfill my last duty to my friend. Tahir Elçi was not only a very good lawyer and a human rights defender, but he was also a very good friend of mine. We met in 2000.

As part of a group of human rights defenders, we were trying to establish the Turkish section of Amnesty International at that time and Tahir Elçi was involved in the Diyarbakır group. He dealt with Kurdish villagers' cases in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He was an expert on torture, ill treatment and village burning cases. He had an ability to criticize objectively and I learned from him to look at both sides of the coin.

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Farewell, Tahir Elçi

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I've lost a friend I'll never be able to replace. I've lost a piece of my life. And now, for the first time, it occurs to me what torture it could be to live a very long life.

 

The death of a true friend is such a heavy weight. This is a very difficult column for me to write; I want to give Tahir his due, to describe who he really was, but it's so difficult. On Sunday evening I told Tahir's much-beloved wife Türkan, “When we tell people what sort of person Tahir was, they're not going to believe us; they're going to think we're just saying these things because he's dead now.”
The way he was killed has been compared to how Hrant Dink was murdered. And it really does resemble the Dink situation in many ways.

 

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What can we do?

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The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), probably the most bloodthirsty terrorist group ever, hit Paris on Friday night. According to news agencies, 129 died and hundreds were wounded. The ISIL militants attacked seven different venues at the same time. I send my condolences to the families of the victims and share my feelings of solidarity with the French people.

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From June 7 to Nov. 1: Turkey under scrutiny

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Just over four months ago, my fellows OSCE parliamentarians and I were in Turkeyfor elections that were vibrant, but tainted by restrictions to media freedom and other issues of concern. This time, we hope to observe a pluralistic and hard-fought campaign once again, along with improvements in the areas we highlighted.”

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Detention of Tahir Elçi

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Tahir Elçi, a prominent lawyer and chair of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, was detained last Monday for spreading Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) propaganda. Previously, Elçi appeared in Ahmet Hakan's “Neutral Zone” program on CNN Turk and said that “the PKK is not a terrorist organization. Rather, it is an armed political organization which has large local support.” I watched the program and understood his words as meaning “the PKK is not only a terrorist organization.”

 

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A way to investigate ISIL atrocities

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Four in Diyarbakır, 34 in Suruç and 102 in Ankara, a total of 140 deaths for which the government declared that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is responsible.

We can add to this account Sgt. Mehmet Yalçın Nane, shot by ISIL militants and snipers in Kilis while waiting on the border on July 24. Regardless of the number of deaths, I can clearly say that ISIL atrocities constitute crimes against humanity according to international criminal law.

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Don't speak!

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In the wake of the terrible Ankara attack, which was responsible for killing 97 people and injuring more than 500, the first serious thing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) did was to order a media blackout on the investigation to block criticism of its security mistakes and lack of necessary precautions to prevent the attack. I was planning to write something in addition to my last column as the number of deaths and those wounded have increased, but it is not possible at the moment.

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Ankara massacre and the question of state involvement

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As it has turned into an ordinary practice, they placed the “secret” stamp on the investigation file for the Ankara massacre, which killed 97 people and left nearly 500 people wounded in Ankara on Saturday. We know what happens when they put a “secret” stamp on an investigation file. They basically put it somewhere to be forgotten. This “secret” stamp means that we will learn very little about the investigation from now on.

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