According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2011 World Report, violations of freedom of expression in Turkey still fuel concern. Lengthy periods of detentions and the persecution of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were further points of criticism.
This year's 649-page HRW World Report is based on the evaluation of human rights issues in more than 90 countries. The section on Turkey also mentions the government's lack of attention on the human rights situation and its focus on foreign policies instead.
The report appreciates the amendments passed in the scope of the referendum on the constitutional reform package on 12 September 2010. However, Turkey came under criticism for "alleged speech crimes, the arbitrary use of terrorism laws, unnecessarily prolonged pre-trial detention, a clampdown on the legal pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and police violence against demonstrators".
Turkey in the HRW 2011 Report
* The government did not make considerable progress in the Kurdish initiative. Several offences were imputed to the BDP, the political party founded subsequent to the ban of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on the grounds of alleged separatist activities.
* The government failed to advance the "democratic opening" announced in 2009 to assure human rights of minority groups such as the Kurds. Kurdish people were attacked in the Dörtyol district of Hatay and in the İnegöl district of Bursa.
* "Some editors and journalists faced scores of ongoing legal proceedings in 2010. The case of Vedat Kursun stands out among those convicted in 2010. The editor of Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat, Kursun received a 166-year prison sentence in May. (...)Long-term restrictions on access to websites, including YouTube, continued".
* Freedom of expression is being restricted by provisions of the Anti-Terror Law. 151 people stand trial in the scope of the so-called KCK trial regarding the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan, the umbrella organization that includes the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), for instance. Among the defendants are seven mayors and numerous lawyers and human rights defenders.
"You failed to protect Hrant Dink"
* The report also referred to the conviction of Turkey by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to the murder of Hrant Dink: "Turkey had failed to protect the life of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist and human rights defender, or to conduct an effective investigation into his January 2007 murder".
* Police ill-treatment remained a problem, particularly during street stops, demonstrations, and arrests. (...) In May police beat five transgender members of Ankara-based NGO Pembe Hayat (Pink Life Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual Solidarity Association) in the street in front of witnesses before detaining them. (...) Use of firearms by police and the gendarmerie remained a matter of concern, particularly against unarmed suspects". The sentences handed down to two policemen for injuring lawyer Muammer Öz in July 2007 were postponed, for expample. (AS/EÖ/VK)
Click here to read the full report.