The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) is an internationally recognized and reputable independent human rights organization, fighting for 30 years to eradicate torture and to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, on the basis of the Constitution and international conventions signed and not signed by the Turkish government. And, ebnem Korur Fincanc, a respected and independent scholar and human rights defender, is the president of HRFT. The unacceptable expressions of the President of the Republic of Turkey at his party’s group meeting yesterday are described as a threat and pressure to hamper the human rights activities of HRFT and its president.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday in his speech to his party’s caucus: “Can you imagine? They take someone from a terrorist organization and put them in charge of the TTB (Turkish Medical Association). This is the case with terrorist organizations, NGOs. The measures we have taken in the health field are obvious. One of the areas in which this government is most successful is in health. regard to this government, which has made investments unprecedented in history, with all its physical infrastructure, is not acceptable. “
Professor R. ebnem Korur Fincanc, who was recently democratically elected and legitimately chairman of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association, is not affiliated with any terrorist organization. She has long been president of HRFT, an internationally renowned human rights organization. Hence why we would like to respond to Mr Erdoan’s unacceptable expressions.
Of course, there is a lot to be said about the content of the “measures taken” by the government in the field of health, the commodification of health care, and especially the “fight” against the Covid-19 epidemic with means and methods which go against the fundamental principles of science and public health and standards of the World Health Organization. However, let’s leave that to the doctors, scientists and medical professionals who are respected members of the Turkish Medical Association.
HRFT is also in a sense a healthcare organization, as we help torture survivors access physical and mental treatment and rehabilitation services. However, our main area of expertise is to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, while strengthening civil society. That is to say, we defend human rights.
As a reminder, human rights defenders fight against rights violations with their own specific methods (monitoring, documentation, reports, etc.), based on the principle that human rights are for all without any discrimination. The basic principles of this struggle are non-violence and independence.
The principle of independence is of the utmost importance in the struggle for human rights. A universal fact implicitly assumed by all human rights documents and conventions – some of which are also adopted by Turkey – is that states which are charged by international human rights law with the duty to protect human rights are at the same time the main offenders. of these rights. With this consideration always in mind, human rights defenders conduct their activities without receiving instructions from governments, other political authorities or persons or organizations involved in human rights violations.
The principle of non-violence is also important, because in all circumstances violence is an indicator of a relationship of domination. Wherever there is a violation of human rights, there is domination. Therefore, making these violations visible and opposing them are responsibilities that flow from the principle of non-violence. All human rights defenders who wish to prevent violations and increase respect for human rights, by the nature of their advocacy, should strictly protect their independence and fight peacefully.
What is behind efforts to control civil society and deactivate protection mechanisms by putting in place dependent and controlled institutions such as the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution (including members and the president are officials appointed by the President of the Republic) is the desire to escape surveillance. Therefore, Mr. President’s expression of “taking control of NGOs” for the elections to the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association is quite remarkable, especially since it targets one of the organizations most important professional and civil society organizations in Turkey who have insisted on maintaining their scientific and organizational activities. independence.
The reason for the government’s unease seems clear enough: the desire not to be watched and criticized. However, in a democratic society, monitoring and criticism of policy makers are civic duties. For this reason, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) clearly states in many of its judgments and case law that those who hold political power should be supervised not only by legislative and judicial bodies, but also by the public, civil society and mass media.
Prof. ebnem Korur Fincanc has been the president of our foundation for many years, as she is a true defender of rights committed to the universal principles of the defense of human rights, including the aforementioned principles of non-violence and independence. . His scientific knowledge and expertise not only in the medical field but also in the field of human rights are recognized internationally. This is why the international community has asked him to take responsibility for opening mass graves in Bosnia and uncovering the shameful genocide in the heart of Europe. That is why she became the voice of thousands of Palestinians subjected to torture in Palestine and Israel, and of a young man who lost his life in Bahrain. This is why she was a co-author of the Istanbul Protocol, to which the European Court of Human Rights systematically refers for documenting and reporting acts of torture.
Being a documentary of the violations that took place on the ship Mavi Marmara, ensuring that those tortured in Abu Gharib hold their lives, standing up for the truth and only the truth regardless of geography, all of this requires moral integrity and absolute. independence.
To reiterate once again, the HRFT is an internationally recognized and renowned independent human rights organization, fighting for 30 years to eradicate torture and establish respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, on the basis of the Constitution and all existing international conventions – signed and unsigned by Turkish governments. ebnem Korur Fincanc, a respected and independent scientist and human rights defender, is the president of HRFT.
The Universal Human Rights Law – to which Turkey adheres with the conventions it has signed – considers the protection of human rights defenders to be the sine qua non of a democratic society. According to the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, States are required to ensure the protection of human rights defenders against all violence, threats, reprisals, de facto unfavorable discrimination or de jure, pressure or any other arbitrariness. action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of the rights mentioned in the Declaration.
The unacceptable statements made by the President of the Republic at the meeting of his party’s parliamentary group yesterday are described as a threat and pressure to prevent the human rights activities of the HRFT and its president. It is a violation of national and international law. This is why we call on the competent authorities to react accordingly.
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