Today, 18 February 2020, the BIC attended the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) meeting to discuss the ongoing human rights violations in Turkey, specifically in regards to those carried out against artists, lawyers, academics and activists. Chaired by MEP Maria Arena, who has personally invited the BIC to attend the event, the panel was comprised of a broad range of Turkish activists and experts, including Mr. Ishan Cibelik, Member of the music group Yorum, and the lawyer Ms. Sibylle Gioe, who shared their experiences regarding the harsh violations of human rights in Turkey.
The current situation in Turkey is representative of the historical evolution that has led to the arbitrary detention, dismissal and arrests of thousands of people. The speakers discussed the oppression that artists, activists, lawyers and academics who exercise their right of the freedom of expression face in opposing the Turkish regime. As discussed during the meeting, the mechanisms that the Turkish government resorted to in subjugating artists, academics and activists is engulfed in an unjust legal system, which is plagued with arbitrariness and judiciary ruled by the executive.
The Subcommittee meeting heard the views of different MEPs who shared a concern for the human rights violations in Turkey. The role that the European Union can play in supporting freedom of expression for citizens in Turkey is complex, and the current strategy to promote sustained dialogue with Turkey as well as condemn the ongoing violations was met with certain criticisms from MEPs who argued that more needs to be done. In the coming weeks, a series of trials will be taking place for individuals accused of a multitude of crimes in Turkey, including colluding with terrorist groups and seeking to overthrow the government, which the EU will observe. As indicated by MEP Arena, the EU is looking to send a delegation to Turkey to gather further information about the ongoing human rights violations in Turkey.
The current status of the EU-Turkey relationship was also discussed and many MEPs expressed concern that the relationship has become more strained in recent years. The European Court of Human Rights, which Turkey is a signatory of, continues to condemn the actions that Turkey is taking against civilians, yet more needs to be done. MEP Nacho Sanchez Amor, the European Parliament Standing Rapporteur for Turkey, identified the centralization of the government and the diminishing secularization within Turkey as potential obstacles in improving human rights. Significantly, the charges of belonging to a terrorist group, which thousands of people in Turkey have been accused of, is a systematic concern over the legal terminology that the government is using to carry out these violations.
In the coming weeks the BIC will produce a short report on the ongoing human rights violations in Turkey with specific recommendations to the European Union, and the role they can take in promoting the compliance of human rights in Turkey.