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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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2010 News
KHRP Raises Ongoing Concerns about torture for UN Committee Against Torture Review of Turkey
Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:23

Today sees the end of the 2-day review of Turkey’s 3rd periodic report on its implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which is taking place as part of the 45th session of the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland running from the 1-19th November 2010. Each of the 146 states that have ratified CAT is obliged to submit a report to the Committee every 4 years. These reports, along with submissions from other stakeholders such as NGOs and civil society representatives, inform the Committee’s assessment of each state’s compliance with CAT and help determine its concerns and recommendations to these states.

In preparation for the review, KHRP submitted a report to the Committee that explains in detail the concerns regarding the continuous violations of the Convention in Turkey. The report highlights Turkey’s failure to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which would allow the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment the right to visit all places of detention in Turkey and examine the treatment of people held there. Turkey has made changes to its legislative programme, however, its Kurdish citizens still disproportionately suffer from torture and mistreatment.  Under Turkey’s draconian anti-terror laws, human rights defenders and vulnerable groups such as children, immigrants and women also increasingly suffer from violations of the Convention. KHRP’s report shows that investigations into torture allegations are often futile as a result of the culture of impunity that veils the Turkish criminal justice system.

KHRP’s Chief Executive said “As our report shows, there are sadly still many instances of torture and ill-treatment taking place in Turkey and little evidence of support, redress, or even acknowledgment for those who have suffered. KHRP strongly urges the Committee to take this report into account during the review, and hopes that the Turkish Government will take this opportunity to improve its human rights record by eliminating practices of torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment wherever they are found.”

KHRP’s submission to the UN CAT on Turkey is available to download from our website here, and more information on the 45th session of the UN Committee Against Torture can be found on the website for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights here.

The Anti-Terror Laws and the Case of Murat Işıkırık
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 19:38

KHRP welcomes the recent report released by Human Rights Watch reviewing the use of the anti-terror laws to ‘prosecute and incarcerate demonstrators in Turkey’. The report cites the KHRP-assisted case of Murat Işıkırık Vs. Turkey that is currently pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

Işıkırık was arrested in March 2007 in Diyarbakir for participating in a demonstration and for attending the funeral of an illegal organisation. For this, he was charged and convicted on making propaganda for, and for committing crimes on behalf of, an illegal organization. Although Işıkırık denied the all of the charges, he was sentenced to prison and has already served three years, with four years left of his sentence.

In June 2006, Turkey amended its anti-terror laws which included a series of severe changes that fail to meet Turkey’s human rights obligations under international law, and have in practice been used to violate the human rights of its citizens. Since 2006 there have been numerous cases of individuals being tried under this amended Turkish legislation and ignoring the protection of human rights. There are paragraphs in the anti-terror laws that fail to respect international treaties on human rights; they provide a vague definition of terrorism, leaving interpretation up to the judges and increase the range of crimes being seen as ‘terrorist’ offences.

According to KHRP’s Chief Executive, ‘The Işıkırık case demonstrates the problems with Turkey’s vague definition of terrorism.  When an individual is imprisoned for mourning or for disagreeing with the state, there is a serious conflict with a commitment to freedoms of expression and association, the right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of ill treatment or torture.’  KHRP calls on Turkey to amend the laws in line with the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Terrorism. Only then can Turkey maintain protection of the human rights of its citizens.

KHRP quoted on work with the Baku Ceyhan Campaign in recent NCVO report 'Voicing your Right to Know: A Guide to Using Freedom of Information in Campaigning'
Monday, 18 October 2010 09:51

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), in partnership with the Ashridge Centre for Business and Society, published a report on the potential of the FOI Act.  This new guide illustrates how the Freedom of Information Act has been used as a powerful and versatile campaigning tool from the local to the national level. It's findings show how campaigners are at the forefront of developing our ‘right to know’, making government more transparent.

This new guide demonstrates how Freedom of Information can be used as a powerful and versatile campaigning tool at a local or national level, whether
to develop the content of a campaign or to gain crucial information on how decisions are made. It shows how campaigners are at the forefront of
developing our ‘right to know’, making government more transparent and exploring key challenges.

llustrated by five case studies, Bliss, Corner House, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, TreeHouse and the Campaign for Clean Air in London, the guide explores ways in which Freedom of Information requests have been used in campaigns from developing the evidence base of a campaign or to gain crucial information on how decisions are made.  It also explores why and how campaigns can benefit from using Freedom of Information requests and tackles some of the potential difficulties that can arise.

The NCVO report is available free for download here

KHRP Contributes to Rivers for Life 3 Meeting in Temacapulín, Mexico
Monday, 11 October 2010 18:23

The Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and Their Allies was held from October 1-7, 2010 in Temacapulín, Mexico, bringing together representatives from hundreds of organizations, dam-affected people, and experts from across the world. KHRP has worked over the past year with organisers International Rivers as part of its international Steering Committee to develop the meeting agenda. The five-day meeting included forums for dam affected people to share experiences, plenary sessions; and training workshops on a range of issues. KHRP contributed to the workshop on ‘Rights and Remedies’ with a presentation that dealt with legal strategies to confront development projects, using lessons learned in litigation against the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline, a 1,768 km (1,099 mi) long crude oil pipeline stretching from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field to the Mediterranean Sea. The presentation explained how organisations and movements can use international mechanisms to combat development project which are detrimental to the local population and environment, and highlighted the importance of early action and careful documentation and evidence gathering.

Previous rivers for life meetings have been very influential and have provided the anti-dam movement with an opportunity to meet and discuss ongoing issues as well as often being a catalyst for action. The 1997 meeting in Brazil ultimately led to the creation of the World Commission on Dams and the adoption of the annual International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life.

KHRP Chief Executive, Kerim Yildiz, said “KHRP is proud to have contributed to this important meeting, which has built connections between dam-movements world-wide and allowed them to share experiences and tactics to protect rivers and human rights. These links are vital for groups lend each other much support when coming up against government and big-business.”

KHRP in Brussels and Strasbourg
Monday, 20 September 2010 10:24

The KHRP- assisted case of Chiragov and others v Armenia, appeared before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg today, the 15th September. The six applicants and their families, all Azeri Kurds, appeared before the court to argue how they had been deprived of their right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions as guaranteed by Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention of Human Rights. The applicants were forced to flee their villages in the Lachin region of Azerbaijan during an attack by Armenia in 1992. The applicants have since been unable to return to their homelands in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as the area is still the subject of an international dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Following today’s hearing, Catriona Vine, Legal Director of the Kurdish Human Right Project noted, 'This case and this hearing is an important step in shining a light on the everyday person living in Nagorno-Karabakh. Too often the conflict is talked about at a political level and the people who have lost their homes are simply forgotten.'

Also today, KHRP Managing Director Rachel Bernu presented at a seminar highlighting the situation for Displaced Persons in the Kurdish regions.  The seminar, which was hosted by KHRP Advisor Jean Lambert MEP and took place at the European Parliament in Brussels, was aimed at drawing attention to the issues many Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) in the Kurdish region face and the role of the international community in seeking sustainable solutions. In Turkey alone, there are an estimated 3.5 million internally displaced persons, representing nearly 5% of the State’s population. In some districts in the Southeast, as much as 90% of the population are IDPs. In Iraq, there are a further over 1.5 million IDPs, many residing in the Kurdish region and the surrounding disputed areas.

'Displacement is endemic in the Kurdish regions and it is vital that when the EU engages with governments in this region that is actively contributing to a solution to this problem. KHRP hopes the EU will increase its support for agencies like the UNHCR and other frontline organisations working on these issues all the while working with regimes to develop better policies and practices in relation to displaced persons' said Rachel Bernu, Managing Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

Download KHRP’s presentation on the situation of IDPs in the Kurdish regions.

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