ANKARA: Turkey has been experiencing a deepening human rights crisis since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took power. Recent actions of Turkey, both in the realm of domestic policy and foreign policy, have caught the attention of the world. Turkey, under the despotic rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is witnessing a deplorable human rights situation, fraught with issues like mass state surveillance.
A number of countries and their leaders have come forward and condemned Turkish military offensive in Syria, and various human rights organizations have documented the human rights violations taking place under Erdogan. Of all the human rights violations taking place in Turkey, the violation of the basic freedom of expression and assembly has been the most visible.
In order to bring attention to these violations and regressive policies being taken up by Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Red Lantern Analytica, has written a letter to the UN High Commission for Human Rights.
“In an era of realpolitik, we are witnessing the rise of countries that have been displaying expansionist and oppressive policies under the garb of democracy. These policies and consequent actions are aimed at undermining the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights. Countries like China, which are now being considered as rising superpowers, are at the forefront of such blatant human rights violations. But another country committing such human rights violations is Turkey,” stated Red Lantern Analytica.
Turkey’s blatant disregard for international agreements and multilateral organizations is a precursor to establishing a dictatorship under the garb of democracy. One might even argue that the human rights situation in Turkey is far worse than in China.
In 2019, world leaders from different countries joined each other in condemning Turkey’s aggressive military offensive in Syria, including the European Union, the Arab League, Britain, Israel, Iran and Australia. The European Union criticized the human rights situation in Turkey this year.
This year itself, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the UN Periodic Review, slated for this year, should address the sharp decline of rights in Turkey. Moreover, the UN Rights Chief has also urged Turkey to investigate possible war crimes in Syria. The Associated Press also reported that Turkey violated the international arms embargo imposed on Libya, the letter added.
This is not the first time that Turkey’s President Erdogan has been accused of human rights abuses , a report published this year by Human Rights Watch, also expressing concern over the ever – increasing incidents in Turkey.
“Authorities continue to block websites and order the removal of online content while thousands of people in Turkey face criminal investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for their social media posts. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of prosecutions and convictions on charges of ‘insulting the president’ since Erdoğan’s first election as president in 2014. Wikipedia remains blocked in Turkey since April 2017,” according to a Human Rights Watch report published this year.
State surveillance is the key aspect of human rights violations taking place in Turkey today. It can be considered the ‘umbrella human rights violation’, under which score of human rights violations are taking place. Ultimately, it is leading to erosion of the fundamental right of Turkish citizens- freedom of speech and expression.
The decision of establishing the New police unit has led to intense pushback from the opposition parties. Former Prime Minister and leader of the Future Party Ahmet Davutoglu took on Erdogan and criticised Erdogan’s move of directly controlling law and order in Istanbul. Similarly, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Sezgin Tanrikulu moved a motion in the Turkish parliament questioning the move.
“Why is there a need to establish a unit in the General Directorate of Security, apart from the supervision of the governorship, within the body of the General Directorate of Security and directly in contact with the President. Who will supervise a power that is not under the control of the governors, and who will respond to the wrong practices of that power,” Ahmet Davutoglu statement published on en24news.
The civil society and academicians have also begun to raise their voice opposing the dictatorial move of Erdogan, undermining the Turkish democracy. Prominent academician Mehmet Koksal argued that the new police unit shall be problematic as it would be directly controlled by the President and compared the new unit with Schutzstaffel force created by Hitler in Nazi Germany. Further, Turkish Bar Association Vice President Huseyin Ozbek argued that such a force under direct control of one person shall further lead to unlawful actions.
“This is a very dangerous development. This is how the SS (Schutzstaffel) police force was formed during the era of Hitler in Germany,” Koksal said.