The IHD's general secretary Öztürk Türkdoğan, the FDIH's vice chairman Yusuf Alataş and Metin Bakkalcı, the general secretary of the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (THIV,) were among the participants at the promotion of the International Delegation of Experts Report prepared within the scope of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
Türkdoğan: "Specially authorized courts ought to be shut down"
The problem of the freedom of speech in Turkey cannot be solved unless specially authorized courts are relinquished, Türkdoğan said at the meeting that took place at 11:00 on Tuesday.
"This report also shows that specially authorized courts must be shut down and the anti-Terror Law must be abolished. Even this country's Chief of Staff and the Undersecretary of the MIT (National Intelligence Organization) can end up facing terrorism related charges due to this law. Even the prime minister could be tried on this [charge] at some point," he said.
Türkdoğan noted that a prosecutor's office had authorized a probe against the defendant lawyers in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials, including himself.
"This amounts to a total scandal. This decision lays bare the grave state the Justice Ministry's bureaucracy [is mired in.] The judges ought to read the European Convention on Human Rights over and over again, he added.
Alataş: "[Authorities] are creating an artificial agenda"
"[Authorities] are trying to instrumentalize the concepts of democracy and human rights. The main problems are falling out of sight due to the artificial agenda [they] have created. [The policy of] 'Zero Problems' has turned into '100 percent problems,'" Yusuf Alataş also said at the meeting.
Bakkalcı: "They must apologize to these people and thank them"
Thousands have been put behind bars due to the mentality of "the backyard of terrorism," according to Metin Bakkalcı.
"[They] must apologize to these people and thank them," he said.
The FDIH and OMCT's delegation conducted examinations in Istanbul, Ankara and the southeastern province of Diyarbakır between Oct. 16 and 22. Among members of the delegation were also the FDIH's chairwoman Souhayr Belhassen, lawyer Martin Pradel and Alexandra Pomeon O'Neill, the head of the FIDH's Department of Human Rights Defenders.
The delegation also held talks with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış and Zafer Üskül, the head of Parliament's Human Rights Commission, as well as with Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir.
The 48 pages long report concluded that the situation in Turkey has progressively worsened for "rights defenders" between 2009 and 2012:
"Commentators on human rights, particularly members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs,) as well as lawyers, union members, journalists, intellectuals, academics and the families of people who had been attacked have all been subjected to significant pressure. The expression of alternative identities (ethnic and religious minority rights, and the Kurdish Problem and sexual minorities in particular) and criticizing the state and its institutions (the operation of institutions, including the independence of the judiciary, the immunity of the state and the military's human rights violations) could be cited among the 'sensitive topics," the report said.
Some 105 journalists1, 45 lawyers2, at least 19 members of human rights organizations3 and 42 union members have been jailed, mainly in connection with the anti-Terror Law, according to the report.
"Dozens have also been subjected to judicial harassment. Trials launched against human rights defenders in many cities across Turkey have been heard of during the Observatory's visits in 2010. Most of these trials are still underway, even two years after the visits," said the report.
The report also highlighted long detention periods, the case of sociologist Pınar Selek who has remained under trial since 1998, lawyer Muharrem Erbey who has remained under arrest since Dec. 2009, as well as writer and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who remained under arrest for over five months until his release on April 10, 2012.
Freedom of Expression, journalists, rights defenders
Human rights defenders' freedom of expression have been restricted through a series of trials and investigations launched against journalists, writers and academics, and via the pressure on the media that finally culminates in auto-censuring, according to the report.
"The number of journalists arrested and convicted within two years have increased more than fivefold. Indeed, 27 journalists were convicted in 2011, six in 2010 and two in 2009. While 18 journalists were under arrest in 2009 and 24 in 2010, 77 journalists were arrested in 2011," the report said.
The report also proposed a number of suggestions for Turkey:
*The security of human rights defenders must be ensured.
*The freedom of expression must be taken under protection, including the right to disseminate information on human rights issues and express opinions.
*The right of human rights defenders to organize must be taken under protection.
*Human rights defenders' participation in public affairs must be ensured.
*These groups must be protected against attacks and strictures, including the defenders of women's and minorities' rights.
*Authorities must collaborate with institutions that monitor human rights, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The report will be sent to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and other official institutions, and its promotion to the international press is set to take place in Brussels on June 7. (SK/HK)
* FDIH & OMCT reports.
 According to bianet and the Human Rights Association (IHD.)
 According to the IHD.
 11 IHD members, three members of the Association for Solidarity and Support of Relatives of Disappeared People (YAKAY-DER), three members of the Peace Mothers, one member of the Association for the Support of Women Candidates (KA-DER,) conscientious objector Enver Aydemir and one member of the Solidarity Initiative. No Turkish organization systematically lists arrested and convicted human rights defenders. For that reason, their numbers could also be higher.