The Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders announced its founding declaration during a press statement organized at the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) İstanbul office. The Network, which Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) is an initiator of, emphasized the demand to end all oppression and legal harassment against human rights defenders immediately.
The Republic of Turkey, being party to international conventions, is obliged to protect fundamental rights and freedoms through its legislative, judicial and executive bodies. In cases where domestic law and international treaties contradict over issues on fundamental rights and freedoms, Article 90 of the Constitution acknowledges the jurisdiction of international treaties. Despite this legal context, and given the complete disregard for constitutional and treaty obligations, pressures against human rights institutions and defenders fighting against human rights violations, have gradually intensified in recent years.
Under “Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” also known as “The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,” defending human rights is a right and states must protect human rights defenders.
In a similar manner, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) “Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,” “defending human rights [is] a universally recognized right” which follows from the indivisible, interdependent and interrelated nature of universal human rights. Under these Guidelines, “OSCE participating States have committed to respect, protect and fulfil these rights for everyone on their territory and subject to their jurisdiction.” “Ensuring Protection – European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders” also calls European Union member states to acknowledge that “human rights defenders are those individuals, groups and organs of society that promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms,” as well as to protect, support and collaborate with human rights defenders.
Despite being a member of the United Nations and participating state of OSCE, Turkey does not comply with the recommendations and obligations set by these international entities’ principal decisions, as it keeps the human rights space and human rights defenders under intense pressure, violating a series of rights guaranteed under international law and the Constitution.
Regrettably, already the debatable practice of “state of law” in Turkey is rapidly losing its last hinges, whereas the rule of law is fading. Arbitrariness, intimidation and pressure campaigns have become commonplace. Many human rights defenders from Turkey, including prominent names from the movement, face legal harassments, investigations, imprisonment on baseless claims, threats and smear campaigns, while the crackdown remains in full force.
We, the undersigned, emphasize once again that defending human rights is a universal right; thus, we strongly condemn the repression against human rights defenders and urge to end all forms of harassment. We declare that we will follow through our demand and have therefore founded İnsan Hakları Savunucuları Dayanışma Ağı (Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey) with this goal in mind.
Amnesty International, Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Citizens’ Assembly Turkey, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Association, Human Rights Agenda Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Kaos GL, Life Memory Freedom Association, Media and Law Studies Association, The Rights Initiative, Truth Justice Memory Center