My Hometown is Kyrenia – Part II

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Kyrenia harbor and castle. Source: Cyprus 44

Below is the second and final part of the story Marlene Philippou has shared with us. Once again, thank you so much for you soulful story, Marlene! Again, scroll down to the end to see Marlene’s personal photos of her visit back to Kyrenia after 29 years.

‘And so, after the Turkish invasion- a major landmark in my life – another life began.  We had to flee and seek protection in other parts of Cyprus, we became refugees in our own country. The trauma and memories of this intense experience brought, without doubt, early maturity on us. We grew up too fast. As a teenager, I really should have been worried about where to hang out with my friends, going to parties, playing with my cats, having fun at our school excursions with my classmates, decorating my room with posters of my favourite pop stars (David Cassidy, Jonny Osmond), counting the stars on clear nights with my neighbourhood friends, swimming at our beach…and more…

Instead, I lost my house, my personal things, my friends, my neighbourhood, my school, my hometown. And I lost my uncle, who was declared missing and still remains so after 39 years! His parents eventually passed away carrying that deep sorrow in their heart. So many “why’s”. So much pain in my heart.

29 years after I returned. The crossroads opened up all of a sudden… I was in awe of what was happening. My home was such a short distance away from Nicosia, yet it has been so far away and out of reach, for so long. The night before I hardly slept. I dreamt of what my house would look like. I dreamt of what my neighbourhood would look like. I dreamt that maybe I would find old photographs, any furniture, anything from our house…

I waited 6 hours at the barracks. I was holding my breath as I was walking hurriedly towards our house. 29 years after I returned, not as a teenager. I was a grown woman, I was a mother now. I had two daughters and I wanted very badly to show them where my “first” life was. Alas, I was devastated. No house was there…no big citrus fruit orchard was there. Just the old external stone wall that went round our house and out of which my brother couldn’t see when we had left. He was now taller! And 4 big blocks of flats had been built in our house’ place. I was torn apart. I felt a huge gap between my two lives. I couldn’t find a way of mending that gap. I couldn’t put the pieces together. I wanted to walk inside my house, re-live my life there, touch, smell the citrus fruit, our jasmine plant… I could not. This was not possible for me.

Today, 39 years after the situation remains. My pain is still there. My nostalgia is getting stronger. My love for my homeland, becomes stronger by the day. My desire to be able to live in Kyrenia,also stronger.

My name is Marlene Michaelidou Philippou. I come from the island of Cyprus. I was born and raised in Kyrenia. I am Greek-Cypriot. I am a refugee in my own country. I was forced out of my home and town in 1974. I have been deprived for the past 39 years of my right to live in the place where I was born. I have been deprived of the right to show my children where I was born and grew up. I am deprived of living in the land of my ancestors and the land I love. I can travel and live anywhere else in the world. Yet not where my roots are and not where my soul resides.’

Marlene says: 'Revisiting my primary school.'

Marlene says: ‘Revisiting my primary school.’

Marlene says: 'The yard of my primary school, so many memories there.'

Marlene says: ‘The yard of my primary school, so many memories there.’

Marlene says: ' Ι left my soul here, at this beach (called Ta fytzia).'

Marlene says: ‘ Ι left my soul here, at this beach (called Ta fytzia).’

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My Hometown is Kyrenia – Part I

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Map depicting where Kyrenia lies. Source: Just About Cyprus

Today I would like to post the first of a two-part personal story, which a very special Greek Cypriot woman has been kind enough to share with me. Mrs. Marlene Philippou is the mother of one of my very good friend’s from Cyprus and a person I hold very close to my heart. Meeting her, you would not be able to guess the suffering she has incurred following the invasion since she is the sweetest and most delightful person I know. Following the invasion and forced evacuation from her hometown, Marlene shares her story of how she had to build a new life in Nicosia and the impacts the invasion has had on her life. Today, she is a very successful entrepreneur and owner of Smart Options, an educational consulting company in Cyprus.

Below she shares her story – thank you for this wonderful input for the blog, Marlene! Scroll all the way to end for Marlene’s personal pictures when she revisited Kyrenia after 29 years.

‘I recall the first fifteen years of my life as innocent, beautiful and carefree. I was growing up together with my parents, my brother and my sister (and my grandparents and uncle in the house next to ours), in a beautiful house surrounded by a big orchard, full of orange, lemon, tangerine and bergamot trees. I remember all the games and fun we had playing inside that orchard, chasing our nine cats, watching our grandpa watering with great love and care all the trees early in the morning…And the beach, ah that beautiful, small beach behind the historic Kyrenia castle, that was just a five minute walk from us…That is where we had our first dips, that is where my uncle Lakis taught us swimming and showed us how to build sandcastles, that is where we would set off to explore the area around. During the long, hot summers, together with other girls and boys from our neighbourhood, we would go for a morning swim, return home to play board games and have our lunch, before the traditional siesta time. That was when we were supposed to be quiet in our bedrooms as that time was sacred rest time for the adults.  As you can imagine, it was a challenge for us! Yes, we would lie on our beds, listen to the crickets “humming” their songs away in that heat and not before long, we would start to giggle and start telling stories to one another only to be told to keep our voices down. At some point though, we would “surrender” to the after-effects of too much sun exposure, salty sea water and the softness of the sea-breeze caressing our faces, and fall into a deep, refreshing and most sweet sleep…

That summer began as usual. Towards the end of June we had finished our school exams! The year,1974. My girlfriends and I were excited that we were at last allowed to go for strolls around the town and sit at cafes by ourselves! We were fourteen going onto fifteen and lived in a quiet, traditional, small town of about 3,000 inhabitants only. I remember vividly how happy we were when at the end of our final exam we walked down to the Kyrenia harbour, sat at a coffee-shop and ordered our sweets. We felt that all of a sudden life was opening up for us… there was so much to live, so much to see and experience. We felt that we were saying goodbye to our first childhood and were entering our teenage years with the anticipation and tingling that the unknown brings. There was so much excitement that day as we started to chatter and plan our holidays ahead: gatherings, going to the beach, our favourite singers, boys, clothes, make-up…!! This was going to be a special summer.

Little did we know that this was going to be our last summer there. Little did we know that we (friends, class-mates, teachers), would soon be parted, disappear from one another’s life (in many cases for many years to come) and become scattered all over the world. Little did we know that from our small, picturesque and peaceful town of Kyrenia, we would find ourselves in strange places.

On the 20th of July 1974, I was woken up by three strong explosions! Three bombs targeted the Kyrenia castle; we were very close to that. Then we heard and saw military airplanes circling our roof; noise, smoke, window glasses breaking, people screaming, panic, disaster…my beloved uncle (my mother’s brother), getting ready to enlist for the army. His courageous attempts to keep our spirits high as we were waving goodbye to him, blinded by the tears in our eyes, did not work. I can still see in front of me his smiling face, his straightened body in the army uniform as he was walking away, and I remember his promise that he would see us again soon.. a promise he did not manage to keep.  I remember how we “ran for our lives”…I remember how we left our belongings behind, our house, our pets, our friends, our schools…How we said goodbye to that life that was…It was the beginning of the end. The end of my…”first”life. The end to my true innocent childhood years.

When I think of those days, I realise that we, as kids, experienced from a very early age (my memory takes me back to when I was as young as four years old), conflict, fear, aggravation, incidents and fighting between the two existing communities of my home-island,  Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. On top of this, living in a neighbourhood which bordered a big Turkish-Cypriot district, I was observing how different life for the 2 communes was and dreaming of having a “normal’ life, a life that would be free of all this, a life that would be harmonious and peaceful. My generation grew up together with the “Cyprus problem”. And has been hearing about its pending solution, ever since I can remember!’

Marlene says: ‘Returning to my beach. Breathing in that unique sea breeze.’

Marlene says: ‘The exterior wall, still there. I touch it and I feel my childhood; I touch it and I hear stories; I touch it and I see picture… I see all my beloved people who lived in those houses inside that wall; I touch it and I feel its warmth.

Marlene says: ‘The beach next to our house’.

Developments

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Source: Cyprus news Report

Some momentum is building around the Cyprus issue following the Greek Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader’s, Dervis Eroglu recent dinner. The two leaders are set to try to develop a joint statement to start substantial talks for a permanent settlement.

I found the following articles to be particularly helpful in clarifying what is happening amidst all of what is being said. Let’s see if in fact this one percent will be reached as is described in the first article.

Deal Close Yet So Far

http://cyprus-mail.com/2013/12/15/deal-close-but-yet-so-far/#prettyPhoto

Turkish FM Discusses Cyprus with Ban, Greek FM

http://www.aa.com.tr/en/u/262935–psychological-atmosphere-now-exists-in-intl-community-for-permanent-cyprus-peace-turkish-fm

 

Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Violations

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Source: Economist

In this post, I would like to touch upon the violations of human rights of Turkish Cypriots. It has been very difficult to find violations of human rights which the Turkish Cypriot community has incurred since very little information about this is available. It seems that the fundamental problem is the differences in what human rights mean to the two communities. Greek Cypriots tend to think of human rights violations following the Turkish invasion in 1974 as their missing persons, loss of property, etc. However, according to Turkish Cypriots, human rights violations were incurred prior to invasion and in particular in the 1960s when Cyprus gained independence.

The Turkish Cypriot community tends to associate human rights violations with their lack of representation in the state’s government and their right to property when living as enclaves in the southern part of Cyprus before the invasion. Following the invasion and the unilateral declaration of independence, the Turkish Cypriots have suffered the consequences. They have not been recognized as a nation by any country apart from Turkey and therefore have been embargoed, leaving little room for economic growth. Below are further claims of human rights violations incurred by the Turkish Cypriots:

  • Right to education: inability to participate in international programs such as ERASMUS due to lack of recognition of high-schools and universities in the north of Cyprus
  • Right to property: land that Turkish Cypriots owned in the south of Cyprus prior to the invasion which following the population transfers of ’75 became property of the Greek Cypriot refugees who were displaced from their homes in the north, occupied territory.
  • Right to transportation and communication: the two airports operating in the north of Cyprus have flights only to/ from Turkey and nowhere else in the world
  • Right to culture: isolation because of language spoken; Greek is the official language of Cyprus
  • Sporting rights: Turkish Cypriots do not have a country to represent in international sporting events such as the Olympics and thus become further isolated. 

Many of these rights pertain to the isolation Turkish Cypriots have incurred following their illegal declaration of independence with the support of Turkey. Nevertheless, the ongoing political problems overshadow the violations the Turkish Cypriot community faces. To a great degree this problem highlights the ongoing identity conflict that is a common thread throughout the overall Cyprus conflict.

 The importance, however, of acknowledging that both Greek- and Turkish Cypriots have been victims of human rights violations following the invasion is paramount. Although it is relatively easier to become informed about the violations incurred by Greek Cypriots, it is important to be aware that the Turkish Cypriots have also incurred violations.

Perhaps finding a way to decrease the gap between the definition and significance of human rights to each side would be one starting point for future discussions between the communities.

Further sources:

http://www.ankarabarosu.org.tr/siteler/AnkaraBarReview/tekmakale/2010-1/2.pdf

http://www.ari.org.tr/En/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/THE-HUMAN-RIGHTS-OF-TURKISH-CYPRIOTS.pdf

Imagining a Resolution?

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 Source

For today’s topic I would like to slightly diverge from the topic of human rights and explore the notion of a resolution to the Cyprus conflict. I recently came across a brief article by a PhD student at Columbia University where she describes findings regarding ‘imagined contact’ being an effective method for addressing intergroup conflict, even in the most severe cases.

The study refers specifically to Turkish Cypriots and how when they imagined positive contact with Greek Cypriots, they were more willing to engage with them. I found this to be an extremely interesting notion! Just by simply imagining positive contact with the other group, they were more open and inclined to interact with them. This is an extremely innovative idea, which is worth exploring. It doesn’t necessarily mean that just by imagining positive contact, there will actually be contact but rather that it would bring about greater possibility of positive contact between the two communities. Even the resulting willingness to engage with the other community brings forward new hope that perhaps the power of the imagination could be translated to reality. By eventually engaging  to a greater extent with one another, the two communities can harness this communication to start to look at what a potential resolution to the conflict would look like. 

Below is the article from the ICCCR website where it was published. I think this is an extremely fascinating proposal, which definitely deserves more thought. Let me know what you think in the comments!

‘Is it possible to simply imagine a better future when faced with seemingly unresolvable conflicts? Last month’s issue of The American Psychologist focused on peace psychology, and presented the article “Intergroup Contact as a Tool for Reducing, Resolving, and Preventing Intergroup Conflict, which outlined numerous methods for initiating intergroup contact as the first step toward conflict resolution and peace. One of the most intriguing methods outlined in the article was imagined contact. Research and empirical support on the effectiveness of imagined contact as a method for reducing intergroup conflict has started to become more prevalent over the past few years.

Researchers conducted a study in which they asked Turkish Cypriots to imagine interacting with Greek Cypriots. Conflict between the two groups, initially stemming from a colonial dispute over northern Cyprus, has been ongoing for over 50 years.  The present study sought to explore whether imagined contact would lead to increased 1) interest in having a casual conversation with a Greek Cypriot and 2) likeliness to do so. They found that for Turkish Cypriot participants who imagined positive contact with Greek Cypriots, interest in future contact was greater than participants who hadn’t imagined contact. Additionally, likeliness to engage in future contact was also significantly greater for participants who imagined contact. These findings suggest that imagined contact can be an effective method for addressing intergroup conflict even in severe cases.

Although Intergroup Contact may be a viable tool when attempting to reduce, resolve, and/or prevent conflict, in instances where Intergroup Contact is not possible or ideal, practitioners may find it useful for members of opposing groups to simply imagine contact with one another.’

Original article by Lauren T. Catenacci: http://icccr.tc.columbia.edu/can-we-simply-imagine-a-conflict-into-resolution/

 

The Story of Eleni Foka and the Enclaved

Today I would like to discuss the enclaved in the occupied north of Cyprus and in particular share the story of Eleni Foka, an enclaved who fought for justice.

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UN Peacekeepers helping enclaved woman carry food to her home. Source: mfa.gov.cy

The enclaved is a term that refers to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites who decided, following the invasion, that they would stay at their homes in the occupied area hoping that the occupation would end soon after. The number of enclaves in the north following the invasion was estimated to be around 20,000 Greek Cypriots and Maronites but by 1975 this number had dwindled to around 11,500. The Greek Cypriots and Maronites who decided to stay were protected by the Vienna III agreement, which stipulated that, amongst others, the enclaved would be free to remain in their homes and that they would aided to be able to lead normal lives, enjoying their rights to religion, education, medical care by doctors of their community and free movement. 

Nevertheless, the Turkish Cypriot authorities have denied these rights to the enclaved. These violations of the rights of the enclaved have been acknowledged by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which found Turkey guilty of not upholding 14 articles of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The ECHR has found the following violations:

  • violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus, concerning the effects of restrictions on freedom of movement which limited access to places of worship and participation in other aspects of religious life.
  • violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in so far as school-books destined for use in their primary school were subject to excessive measures of censorship.
  • continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in that their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions was not secured in case of their permanent departure from that territory and in that, in case of death, inheritance rights of relatives living in southern Cyprus were not recognized.
  • violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in so far as no appropriate secondary-school facilities were available to them.
  • violation of Article 3 in that the Greek Cypriots living in the Karpass area of northern Cyprus had been subjected to discrimination amounting to degrading treatment.
  • violation of Article 8 concerning the right of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus to respect for their private and family life and to respect for their home.
  • violation of Article 13 by reason of the absence, as a matter of practice, of remedies in respect of interferences by the authorities with the rights of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus under Articles 3, 8, 9 and 10 of the Convention and Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1.

Over the years, UN Secretary Generals have repeatedly noted that the enclaved are not leading normal lives as agreed under the Vienna III agreement. By the end of 2007, the number of enclaved had fallen to 500.

Only two primary schools exist in the occupied north, with no secondary schools being allowed to operate. Eleni Foka was one of the women who fought for schools to open following the invasion. She lived in the region of the Karpas peninsula where she became a teacher in 1973. Following the invasion, she was one of the few Greek Cypriot teachers that stayed in the occupied region and fought for the opening of a primary school so that the few Greek Cypriot children that stayed behind could have an education. Below is an excerpt of her story about being a schoolteacher in the occupied region as she recounted it on Sky Channel Greece in 2010 after 36 years.

“We were not allowed by the Turks to use books of history and religion… but the children who were living in these difficult situations wanted to learn. So we found some books from previous years, I taught in whispers. And we had other books over the desks, of English and Mathematics, to cover the books of history and religion… It was a constant pain, a constant frustration. The Cypriot government could not help us…”

Source 

Unfortunately, in 1997 Eleni Foka needed medical care and since she didn’t trust the care in the occupied area, she decided to go to the Greek Cypriot south. However, she was never allowed to return to her home in the north, thus becoming a displaced person in the south. 

“(they) did not allow me to return to the occupied territories. So I lost my house and they closed the school. Then I realized that there was collaboration between the Cypriot authorities and the UN regarding my silent displacement.” 

“When displaced, I did not bring any belongings with me… Only a good lady went to my house and found a Greek flag there and brought it to me. She had wrapped it in a nightgown so it would not be seen by the Turks…”

Foka is known for having taken her case to the ECHR and it being acknowledged in a report the developed in 1994. In 2011, she joined the class action of Greek Cypriots, et al. versus TRNC and HSBC Bank USA. The lawsuit was initiated by Cypriots who were displaced during the invasion.

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 Foka recounting her story. Source: Greek Song Stories

The Issue of Missing Persons

One of the most devastating consequences of the invasion was that of missing persons. An estimated total of over 1,600 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots were missing following the invasion.  Of the Greek Cypriots, it is estimated that around 60% percent of the missing persons were military personnel and 40% civilians (including women and children under the age of 16). These numbers accounted for 0.26% of the total Greek Cypriot population on the island at the time.

Although prisoner exchanges took place, these unaccounted persons were never returned and most of them are still missing to this day.

During my time in Cyprus, images such as the ones below were commonplace on the island.  Older women and young children held pictures of either their sons, husbands, grandfathers and other relatives asking for them to be given back to their families. Most weekends, organizations of families of missing persons such as the Pancyprian Organisation of Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons rallied beside the Green Line (or UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus) demanding information on their missing relatives. As I was quite young at the time, this was very shocking for me. It was difficult to understand why these people couldn’t find the answers they were looking for about their relatives. I remember thinking how devastating it would be if one of those missing persons were my relative and how traumatizing the situation would be.

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Source: Kypros.org

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 Source: BBC UK

I would therefore like to focus this post on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (sponsored by the European Union) and their accomplishments, which have allowed for some consolation in the face of hardship for the families of missing persons. The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), as defined on their website, is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2001 persons (502 Turkish Cypriots and 1,493 Greek Cypriots) who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the events of 1974.

The CMP employs a bi-communal forensic team of more than 60 Cypriot archeologists, anthropologists and geneticists, who conduct excavations throughout the island and anthropological and genetic analyses of remains at the CMP Anthropological Laboratory. The CMP doesn’t attempt to establish the cause of death or attribute responsibility for the death of missing persons. Its objective is a humanitarian one, bringing closure to thousands of affected families through the return of the remains of their missing relatives.

July 2007 marked a turning point by the organization since they were able to start returning individuals’ remains to their families. This is a significant endeavor, which has provided closure for the hundreds of families whose missing relatives’ remains have been recovered. To date, 359 Greek Cypriot and 105 Turkish Cypriot missing individuals have been identified and returned to their families. These are encouraging numbers that give hope to these families. I also find it particularly promising that this is a bi-communal organization. Both Greek- and Turkish Cypriots work together on this common goal of finding their missing persons. It is the hope that this spirit of bi-communality and peaceful cohabitation and collaboration can further diffuse to other arenas to bring the ongoing Cyprus problem one step closer to its end.

For more information on the CMP, please visit their website where they have interesting data on progress, such as the graphs below.

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Source: CMP website

If the USA were invaded like Cyprus…

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all the American readers! As you take the time to give thanks, I would like to share this graphic I came across recently.

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Source: HALC

I found this really interesting since it depicts what the USA would look like if 36% of its land were occupied like it is in Cyprus; much of north- and some mid- USA would be occupied.

Seeing a graphic like this puts the invasion into perspective and makes me think about the tolerance levels of other countries. If the USA, were invaded for example, I wonder what the consequences would be and if this type of conflict would have continued as long as the Cyprus conflict has done. Would there be repercussions for the illegal state that unilaterally declared independence and the only country that supports it? On the other hand, how cooperative would the USA (as the invaded) be with the invader? What would the support network look like?

These are all very intriguing questions, which allow us to explore what tolerance levels we have for conflicts and their affected not just in Cyprus but also in other parts of the world.

Let me know your thoughts on this graphic!

Human Rights in the European Union

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 Human Rights in the EU. Source: EU Official website

In order to successfully delve into the topic of human rights in the Cyprus issue, I thought it would be appropriate and necessary to look at the current situation of human rights in the European Union (EU).

The EU is comprised of 28 member states and primarily deals with political and economic issues. Cyprus joined the Union in 2004 and Turkey first applied to the European Economic Community (predecessor to the EU) in 1987. There have been a variety of roadblocks to Turkey’s accession, some critical ones being the ongoing dispute with Cyprus and Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

The EU has made a point of including human rights discourse as a fundamental part of its treaties and agreements. According to the EU official website, their human rights policy encompasses civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as seeks to promote the rights of women, of children, of those persons belonging to minorities, and of displaced persons.

The EU also has specific mandates within its institutions and bodies that deal with human rights. These include: the Fundamentals Rights, Security and Justice, Charter of Fundamental Rights, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights under the European Commission; the Human Rights- Fundamental Rights under the European Parliament; and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights amongst others. Furthermore, annual human rights reports published as well as Human Rights Guidelines for EU member states (although these are not legally binding). The EU has also created open dialogues with non-EU members on human rights issues.

In 1953, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was launched in Europe and all countries in the Union are expected to ratify the convention. The ECHR further founded the European Court of Human Rights, which allows member states to take their cases to court if they feel their rights are violated. Moreover, in 2009, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights opened a regional Europe office, of which many EU member states are a part.

The EU is largely made up of ‘democratic’ states, which in turn signifies their compliance with international human rights standards. However, although there are a number of instruments in place for the protection of human rights in the EU, violations continue to occur. Human Rights Watch reports that due to the crisis affecting the EU, the protection of human rights is not being made a priority and the European Council is not holding the perpetrators accountable. In particular, violations are being reported in regard to immigrants in Greece, violence against women in Hungary, failure to aid Syrian refugees trying to reach Europe and failure to protect the rights of minority groups including Roma, migrants and asylum seekers in general.

 Below are the links for:

Human Rights Guidelines http://eeas.europa.eu/human_rights/guidelines/index_en.htm

Annual Reports (2012) http://eeas.europa.eu/human_rights/index_en.htm

if you want to explore them in more detail.

Looking at Human Rights in Turkey

The issue of human rights in Turkey is of grave importance, particularly when looking at its accession to the EU. In order to join the EU, Turkey needs to complete negotiations on 33 of the 35 chapters of the acquis communautaire  (the body of EU law) many of which include human rights requirements.

According to the Human Rights Watch 2012 report on Turkey, the current government has failed to take steps in ameliorating the human rights situation in the country. Many violations pertain to Kurdish activists who are denied basic rights and the report emphasizes restriction of free speech and media as well as fair trial rights. Violence against women is also noted as a grave violation.

Amnesty International has also reported restrictions on the following:

  • Freedom of expression (citing little effort being made to improve the restrictions)
  • Torture and other ill-treatment (particularly in ‘places of official detention’)
  • Excessive use of force (particularly during demonstrations)
  • Impunity (those responsible for violations not being brought to justice)
  • Unfair trials (in respect to prosecutions under anti-terrorism legislation before Special Heavy Penal Courts)
  • Abuses by armed groups (bomb attacks by unknown individuals continuing to kill civilians)
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Rights of LGBTI people
  • Violence against women and girls (not enough shelters for survivors of domestic violence).

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The graph shows that Turkey is the first country with European Court of Human Rights judgments relating to it. Source: LSE blog

You can also access the reports through the links below:

Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/europecentral-asia/turkey

Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/region/turkey/report-2013

 It is important to note that the Turkish government has reiterated its efforts in improving the human rights situation in Turkey on all fronts, mainly through its recently announced ‘democratic reforms’. Although the reforms have been criticized, efforts by the government are being seen and acknowledged by international organizations even though much is still left to be done.

 

Up next: how human rights are dealt with in the EU!