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Turkish (Turkiye)

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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Who is responsible now?

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As I sadly sat down to write a press release yesterday for my organization the Human Rights Agenda Association to protest the detention of Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, I learned about the bomb attack in Ankara. I immediately left my house to see the place and the situation was terrible.
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Dismantling democracy in Turkey: a civil rights perspective (II)

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The effective enjoyment of fundamental freedoms granted by domestic constitutions is the only reliable indicator of any country's democratization status: All human liberties set forth by national charters connote a strict range of the state's positive obligations toward its citizens, a series of duties to respect in order to comply with the democratic paradigm.

These essential requirements transform the role of the state into an active one: Beyond being bound to refrain from any interference therein, it also ought to engage in facilitating their complete fruition. Every stable democracy has to ensure the respect of basic human rights and provide the necessary tools of their fulfillment. Proceeding with the analysis of the civil rights situation in Turkey, stressing once again that few are the classic human rights that must be taken into account to rank a democracy, a further scrutiny of the provision set by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), freedom of expression (FoE), is indeed indispensable.

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Dismantling democracy in Turkey: a civil rights perspective

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The term democracy describes a form of government in which the legitimacy to rule (kratos) is bestowed upon the people (demos) of a state, who exert it with a direct or indirect system of representation through free elections.

Since the second half of the 20th century, the democratic axiom has been the subject of in-depth analyses denoting its nature as a problematic criterion, an “essentially contested concept” able to acquire different meanings according to the social and cultural context in which it develops, without losing its primacy as a key term in the domain of social sciences.

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