|KHRP Challenges Turkey and Armenia at the OSCE HDIM|
At the annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting that took place in Warsaw from 29 September to 10 October, KHRP called into question Turkey and Armenia’s commitment to their OSCE obligations. Detailing numerous cases over the past year which demonstrate that these states are failing to meet these commitments, KHRP’s submissions put them on the hot seat, and sadly, they seemed unable to defend their positions.
Responding to a KHRP submission that noted that religious minorities often face several forms of discrimination, Turkey stated that ‘a peculiar aspect of Turkish democracy is that its concept of minority is based on religion rather than ethnicity’ and that ‘non-Muslim minorities’ are specifically protected under the Treaty of Lausanne. Unfortunately, this statement itself demonstrates Turkey’s lack of commitment to OSCE principles. KHRP highlighted that not all non-Muslim minorities are protected by this treaty, including Christians from traditions that developed after it was signed in 1923. Furthermore, the statement illustrates how even today, Turkey does not recognize the illegitimacy of its stance towards other minorities. Although the OSCE Human Dimension criteria clearly states that states should support ethnic and cultural minorities within their borders, Turkey continues to act on an unworkable principle that denies the very existence of ethnic/cultural/linguistic groups that are not Turkish, even when one such group, the Kurds, make up at least 20 per cent of its population.
Turkey failed to address KHRP’s submission in relation to religious registration, whereby individuals are compelled to reveal their religious beliefs in employment and military service, despite Article 24 of the 1982 Constitution forbidding this. Similar submissions were made against Armenia by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy.
In relation to freedom of expression in Armenia, KHRP highlighted the seminal judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Meltex Ltd and Mesrop Movsesyan v. Armenia earlier this year. Judges ruled that Armenia was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights after the country’s first independent television channel was effectively prevented from broadcasting. KHRP drew a parallel with Armenia’s OSCE obligations and found that it was not faring any better in that respect.
In total, KHRP made six submissions relating to: freedom of expression; freedom of association and movement; non-discrimination in relation to national minorities; gender equality and violence against women; refugees and displaced persons; and freedom of religion or belief.
KHRP’s submissions to the OSCE HDIM can be downloaded from our website here.
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