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Turkish (Turkiye)

An inseparable pair: Mor Gabriel land and Aramean rights by Roberto Frifrini*

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Last November the monastery of Mor Gabriel suffered further defeat in an attempt for recognition of its rights. The Supreme Court of Appeals rejected a petition by the Mor Gabriel Foundation asking for a review of the judgment issued by the 20th chamber of the same court in June 2012. It seems the age-old struggle between Mor Gabriel and the Treasury has come to a dead end.

If viewed from a broader perspective, the court's decision leaves me speechless: It occurred during a time in which we see significant changes in the state's behavior towards minorities.

‘Becoming like Turkey'

In recent months two major events bear witness to this new focus on the issue of minorities: the so-called “Restitution Decree” of August 2011, and the discourse of President Abdullah Gül on Oct. 1, 2012 -- in my opinion the most important one, especially from a constitutional perspective. Speaking in Parliament on the opening day of the legislative year, President Gül highlighted Turkey's leading role in the region, stressing that every neighboring nation would like to become like Turkey.

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Déjà vu -- removing immunity of Kurdish MPs?

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I think it is the same for individuals and nations alike: If you do not learn from your experiences, you never grow, never become a mature individual or nation.

And it is obvious that Turkey has not learned from its past experiences. Otherwise, we would not see this motion in Parliament to remove the immunity of pro-Kurdish, now-defunct Democracy Party (DEP) members of Parliament.I can’t remember how many pro-Kurdish political parties have been closed down in Turkey so far. There have been so many. However, I clearly remember what happened in 1994; in that year some pro-Kurdish MPs had their parliamentary immunity removed. They were arrested in Parliament and taken into custody by police officers who grabbed them by the neck like they were kittens, and all the MPs ended up in prison.Putting MPs in prison had been taken as a clear message by most Kurds that there was no room for peaceful means to promote Kurds’ rights, and that violence was the only option. I have never agreed with the view that violence can be a useful means to gain rights, but I am talking about the mindset back then. Today, we have quite a different set of circumstances than we had in 1994 in terms of democracy, freedom of expression and the situation of the Kurds in Turkey. But, one thing is certain: Removing Kurdish MPs’ immunity would create exactly the same mental state of being that was created by the 1994 disaster.

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Headscarf discrimination spills over into private sector

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Headscarf discrimination spills over into private sector

Discrimination against women wearing headscarves continues to be recorded despite expectations that stigma would have waned.

Gunal Kursun, Human Rights Agenda Association President and assistant professor at Adana Cukurova University, said that the headscarf debate is a natural outcome of a democratic transformation process through which Turkey is passing.

"In countries where different ethnic groups and identities exist, such debates continue for some time. But afterwards the societal balance will fall into place," Kursun told SES Türkiye.

According to Kursun, there is a widespread perception within the society that views the right of women to cover their bodies as contrary to laicism. "But such a right," he said, "should in fact be conceived as the foremost guarantee of laicism."

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World Refugee Day prompts more pondering about refugee issues

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World Refugee Day prompts more pondering about refugee issues

HRAA’s Secretary General Salih Efe: Turkey’s new “Foreigners and International Protection Draft Bill” is a milestone in refugee issues despite some deficencies.

To mark World Refugee Day on June 20, the Coordination for Refugee Rights (CRR) released a report in which figures indicate a striking increase in the number of refugees in Turkey, prompting a debate on the resolution of Turkey’s long-standing refugee issues.

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Nationalists, muslims and the Kurdish question

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Nationalists, muslims and kurdish question

After 2002, following the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ascent to power, I think, most Kurds developed serious hope that the Kurdish question would be solved.There were so many signs that something was really changing in Turkey. The destruction of villages, kidnappings and systematic torture, which many Kurds had been suffering from, all came to an end. Restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language were relaxed, private Kurdish courses and publications were allowed, and even a state television channel, TRT 6, started to broadcast in Kurdish. Even though the Ergenekon cases mainly targeted coup plotters, Kurds saw that the founders of deep state gangs, like JİTEM -- an illegal extension of the gendarmerie, which was responsible for so many atrocities in southeast Turkey -- were put behind bars. There were even some cases in which JITEM operatives, like Col. Cemal Temizöz, were put on trial.

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Shattering the deafening silence of harassment in İstanbul

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Sexual harassment is a widespread and systemic problem in Turkey, but the law is not the problem, Human Rights Agenda Association (İHGD) Secretary-General Günal Kurşun told Sunday’s Zaman in an exclusive interview. 
“I was riding the tram after picking up a package from my mom for Christmas,” Kocher recalled to Sunday’s Zaman. Holding a box and deep in conversation with her boyfriend, Kocher said she felt pressure on her backside as the tram filled with people. She noticed there was an older man standing behind her, but figuring it was an accident due to the tight space, she tried shifting her weight. His hand was still there. “I freaked out. I was just really shocked,” she said
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LETTER TO THE AUTHORITIES FROM THE REFUGEE RIGHTS COORDINATION HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST SYRIANS IN HATAY SHOULDS BE INVESTIGATED

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 LETTER TO THE AUTHORITIES FROM THE REFUGEE RIGHTS COORDINATION

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST SYRIANS IN HATAY SHOULDS BE INVESTIGATED

Refugee Rights Coordination which consists of 5 human rights organizations from Turkey, sent a letter to President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Interior İdris Naim Şahin and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu concerning the claims about the forced deportation of the asylum seekers  in Hatay to Syria.

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Lawyers to take Dersim massacres to ICC despite hurdles

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Human rights activist and jurist Günal Kurşun said “cultural genocide” or “culturocide” is not recognized in the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Rome Statute, the founding international treaty of the ICC. “There are four groups recognized as victim groups by means of genocide: national, ethnic, racial and religious groups. Unfortunately, cultural groups are not counted as a victim group in the genocide definition, although it may fit the definition for crimes against humanity,” he added.Lawyers are preparing to argue at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that “cultural genocide” continues in the province due to the systematic destruction of traditions, language and values that make the people of Dersim distinct from others

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General Staff should not interfere with judiciary

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The General Staff recently issued a press release about the ongoing Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan trial, underlining that they failed to understand why the defendants are still being kept behind bars. In other words, the General Staff wants the defendants to be released.  

Our Turkish Penal Code (TCK) defines a crime called “attempting to influence a fair trial.” Article 277 of the TCK reads: “Anyone who attempts unlawfully to influence members of the judiciary by giving instructions, exerting pressure or influence for or against one or more of the parties in a trial, defendants, intervening parties or victims by any kind of means shall be punished with imprisonment from two to four years. If the attempt does not go beyond the level of recommendation the sentence shall be imprisonment from six months to two years.”

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Turkey: Journalists’ Arrests Chills Free Speech

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(Istanbul) - The arrest of nine journalists and writers on March 3, 2011, in the absence of clear reasonable cause, will have a chilling effect on free speech, Human Rights Watch said. The nine were accused of links to the alleged "Ergenekon" coup plots against the Turkish government.

Those arrested include Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, two prominent journalists known for critical reporting on the Turkish criminal justice system and police. Şık is co-author of a book about the investigations and trials in the Ergenekon case - after the alleged name given to their organization by the conspirators. He had been working on a book about the police. Şener had written a book on the murder of Hrant Dink, a renowned journalist and human rights defender, and its investigation.

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‘Turkey’s inclusion in international justice system critical to its EU venture’

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Turkey should be included in the world’s most vital international justice system, a human rights activist and academic has said as a global network of civil society organizations from various countries picked Turkey as its “October target” to convince the country to sign the Rome Statute, the founding international treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  

Günal Kurşun, secretary-general of the Human Rights Agenda Association (HRAA) and a lecturer at Ufuk University’s faculty of law, said signing the statute is essential to Turkey’s interests.

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