|KHRP Releases New Fact-Finding Mission Report and Briefing Paper|
KHRP is pleased to announce the publication of a new fact-finding mission report on the human rights situation in south-east Turkey and the release of a briefing paper exploring ongoing efforts to shut down political parties and prosecute politicians who question secularist, nationalist Turkish ideology.
KHRP's latest fact-finding mission report, Return to a State of Emergency? Protecting Human Rights in South-East Turkey, is based on the findings of a KHRP mission to the region in March 2008 to investigate the situation there following recent military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Amid the increased unrest, the provinces of Şırnak, Hakkari and Siirt had been declared high-security zones and checkpoints had been set up in neighbouring areas. In the course of wide-ranging interviews, mission members noted a general consensus that the situation in these regions had deteriorated over the last two years, although it had not reached the same levels of oppression and human rights violations seen in the 1990s. The mission found that the human rights most affected by the conflict were freedom of expression, thought and association, although torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings were also occurring.
'The deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey's south-eastern provinces of late is extremely concerning,' said KHRP Deputy Director Rachel Bernu. 'This further underlines the importance of finding a genuine resolution to the conflict in the region that includes recognition of the country's multicultural make-up and respect for the rights of all citizens.'
KHRP's latest briefing paper, Protecting Politicians or Protecting Democracy? Parliamentary Immunity and Party Closure in Turkey, explores the mechanisms available in Turkey for the lifting of parliamentary immunity and the shutting down of political parties, and the ways in which these mechanisms have been employed by unelected agents whose conception of what is best for Turkey is grounded in a narrow, secular and ethnically-exclusive identity. In recent months in particular, prosecutors have filed a series of requests to lift the parliamentary immunity of MPs from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and have instigated efforts to have the DTP shut down. In March, the issue gained more international attention after a closure case was also opened against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"Parliamentary immunity should protect the interests of the voters, ensuring that elected representatives feel secure in freely representing the concerns of their constituents," said Bernu. "The frequency with which steps are taken in Turkey to remove this immunity and shut down political parties undermines prospects for a truly democratic system."
The briefing paper includes discussions of the concept of parliamentary immunity and its application in different parts of the world, the historical context of the cases against the DTP and AKP, and the implications of these cases for democracy and human rights in Turkey.
Free copies of Return to a State of Emergency? Protecting Human Rights in South-East Turkey can be downloaded from the KHRP website here. Printed copies are available for £10.00 + P&P through our online shop.
Free copies of Protecting Politicians or Protecting Democracy? Parliamentary Immunity and Party Closure in Turkey can be downloaded from the KHRP website here.
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