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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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Charity Awards

Charity Awards

Gruber Prize


Gruber Justice Prize

2009 Publications
2009 Publications from KHRP

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‘Fifth International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds Opens at European Parliament’

KHRP press release from 28 January 2009 translated into Arabic and Sorani

'Fifth International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds Continues in Brussels'

KHRP press release from 29 January 2009 translated into Arabic and Sorani

'Fifth Annual EUTCC Conference Comes to an End'

KHRP press release from 29 January 2009 translated into Arabic and Sorani

Report submitted by KHRP in February 2009 to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN body responsible for overseeing compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). This document was prepared in response to the third periodic report submitted to the Committee by Turkey on its compliance with CERD. KHRP entered its submission in the run-up to the Committee’s 74th meeting, scheduled to start on 16 February 2009 and set to include consideration of Turkey’s compliance with CERD.
Presentation used in the course of a training session on ‘Human Rights and Investment’, delivered to civil servants in Kurdistan, Iraq, on 16 December 2008.

Speech Delivered by KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yıldız at the Fifth International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds, European Parliament, Brussels, 28-29 January 2009

This report covers the key proceedings of the fourth in a series of annual conferences organised by the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels from 3 to 4 December 2007. The event was hosted by the founders of the EUTCC, namely the Bar Human Rights Committee, the Kurdish Human Rights Project, medico international and the Thorolf Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, and was supported by members of the European Parliament. Topics addressed in the course of the conference included the progress of democratisation and legislative reform in Turkey, and the prospects for dialogue and conflict-resolution. The report includes the full texts of the speeches and final resolutions, as well as a background paper distributed at the conference.

The EUTCC was established in November 2004 as the outcome of the first international Conference on ‘The EU, Turkey and the Kurds’ held in the European Parliament in Brussels on 22-23 November 2004. The EUTCC aims to both promote and provide suggestions for Turkey’s bid for EU accession, and to help guarantee respect for human and minority rights and a peaceful, democratic and long-term solution to the Kurdish situation. The EUTCC monitors and conducts regular audits of Turkey’s compliance with the accession criteria, as defined in the accession agreements. It also makes recommendations, acts as a point of contact, and exchanges information, with the institutions of the EU and other governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Protecting Politicians or Protecting Democracy? Parliamentary Immunity and Party Closure in the Run-Up to Local Elections in Turkey explores the ways in which the mechanisms available in Turkey for lifting the immunity of MPs and shutting down political parties facilitate the targeting of democratically elected politicians by unelected officials whose conception of what is best for the country is grounded in a narrow, secular and ethnically-exclusive form of nationalism.

This briefing paper is an updated version of a paper originally published by KHRP in July 2008, just prior to the final decision of the Constitutional Court on moves to shut down the ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, AKP). It features a detailed exploration of that case and ongoing parallel proceedings against the pro-Kurdish Demokratik Toplum Partisi (Democratic Society Party, DTP). It also includes analysis 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.

The updated version of the paper covers moves against MPs and political parties that were ongoing in the months leading up to the March 2009 elections.
Speech delivered by the Kurdish Human Rights Project at the Alternative Water Forum, İstanbul, 21 March 2009
Speech delivered by KHRP at a seminar entitled 'The Kurdish Human Rights Situation, a Lasting Peace and a Democratic Development' at the European Parliament, Brussels on 29 April 2009.
Speech delivered by KHRP at the  Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS on 29 April 2009.

This report is based on the findings of a mission dispatched to Turkey by KHRP in December 2008 following reports by media and regional partners of increased violations of prisoners’ rights. The mission travelled to İstanbul, Ankara, Mardin and Diyarbakır, interviewing former prisoners, prisoners’ families, NGOs, human rights advocates and lawyers.

Concerns highlighted by the mission include routine ill-treatment, arbitrary punishments without adequate recourse to appeal, arbitrary restrictions on visiting and language rights, overcrowding and the high proportion of inmates in the system who are still awaiting trial. Underlying these problems is a lack of proper accountability and independent oversight within the prison system.

The report places these findings in the context of Turkey’s international human rights obligations and offers concrete recommendations for improving protection of prisoners’ rights.

The Death of Engin Çeber: Prosecuting Torture and Ill-Treatment Within the Turkish Detention System focuses on the trial of 60 Turkish officials charged in connection with the high-profile death of a political activist in Turkey in October 2008, allegedly as a result of severe beatings he sustained in custody. It is based on the findings of a KHRP mission that travelled to Turkey to observe part of the court proceedings in March 2009. It explores the background to the case, the trial process itself and a number of issues that arise from it, including questions about the impunity of Turkish officials, the role of medical staff in relation to alleged torture and ill-treatment, and the extent to which such abuses within the Turkish detention system are successfully covered up.

The official response following Engin Çeber’s death was exceptional, including a public apology from the justice minister and subsequent criminal proceedings against an unprecedented number of officials. However, the mission found that there is cause for very considerable doubt over whether this marks or even predicts a fundamental shift in state policy towards the treatment of detainees. In reality, given the seemingly clear-cut circumstances of Mr Çeber’s death and the level of media attention, it appears more likely that the authorities were left with little choice but to make an example of his case. In fact, the mission heard of many other allegations of similar abuses in Turkey receiving no such response, with countless instances of torture and ill-treatment in custody never being seriously investigated or punished.

NGO List of Issues for the Review of the Turkish Government Under the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Submitted by the Kurdish Human Rights Project in July 2009 

Communication to the Commission on the Status of Women on the Status of Kurdish Women in Turkey

Submitted by the Kurdish Human Rights Project in August 2009
Human Rights and the Kurds in Iran Human Rights and the Kurds in IranTooltip 08/26/2009 Hits: 21384
While human rights violations are a part of everyday life for Iranians from all backgrounds, Kurds and other minorities are particularly vulnerable. With the Iranian authorities inclined to treat much minority activism – whether social, cultural or political – as linked to a separatist threat, individuals from these communities are frequently arbitrarily arrested and held incommunicado, often accused of vaguely-worded crimes relating to national security. This briefing paper gives an overview of the modern history of the Kurds in Iran, and the international and domestic legal framework in relation to the human rights situation that they and other Iranians face today. It goes on to explore patterns of human rights violations according to four key themes: discrimination on grounds of gender and ethnicity; arbitrary detention; torture and ill-treatment; and corporal and capital punishment. In the wake of the brutal crackdown that followed the disputed presidential elections in Iran in June this year, the evidence presented here underscores the need for the international community to ensure that human rights concerns are kept squarely at the forefront of diplomatic engagement with Tehran.

This report is based on the findings of a mission dispatched to Turkey by KHRP in May 2009 following reports of widespread detentions and investigations of pro-Kurdish politicians and activists in the aftermath of the March 2009 local elections. The mission travelled to the provinces of Şırnak, Siirt, Mardin, Batman and Diyarbakır, collecting information regarding impunity of state officials, women’s access to justice and restrictions on the work of human rights defenders. Concerns highlighted include the persistence of a culture of impunity among state officials responsible for human rights violations, widespread practice of violence against women, lack of mechanisms for protection and redress for victims of violence, harassing of human rights defenders. Underlying those issues is the lack of implementation of the many legal instruments for the protection of human rights.

The fact-finding mission report places these findings in the context of Turkey’s international human rights obligations and offers concrete recommendations for addressing those concerns.

For the past 26 months Turkey and Iran have been engaging in extensive cross-border military operations in northern Iraq, ostensibly with the purpose of fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), Kurdish separatist groups seen as threats to their national security. Mounting evidence indicates that far from being isolated cases of belligerence, these two states often work in concert with each other, harmonising their attacks. Despite persistent claims from both governments that these campaigns are only directed at the PKK and PJAK, a claim sustained by the media which largely portrays the air strikes and offences as being directed solely at military targets, multiple KHRP missions to northern Iraq have provided compelling evidence of the significant harm caused to the civilian population by Turkey and Iran’s ongoing operations.

This report builds on KHRP’s report of July 2008, ‘A Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdistan, Iraq: Gaps in the Human Rights Infrastructure’.  Drawing on the statements of affected individuals, those providing humanitarian assistance to the affected and the observations of the mission members themselves, this new report details the ways in which these ongoing cross-border operations have detrimentally affected the lives of the inhabitants of the region. The operations have led to loss of life and debilitating injury, loss of livelihood and property, the destruction of traditional village modes of life and the traumatisation of the affected communities, especially children.


NGO Coalition Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Armenia

For consideration by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the eighth session of the UPR Working Group in 2010

9 November 2009

Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Turkey

For consideration by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the eighth session of the UPR Working Group in 2010

9 November 2009