Bakur Delegation 2024: The cases are followed by second and third generations of relatives

At the time we are typing this, the final numbers about people arrested during Newroz celebration last Thursday go up to 204, 38 of them children. The reasons of arrest are for wearing Kurdish traditional clothes and carrying red-yellow-green flags under the charges of propagandizing for a terrorist organization and opposing the Law on Demonstrations and Marches № 2911,

Today, we visited the Bar Association of Lawyers, where a big banner with the picture of Tahir Elçi receives the women delegation. Tahir Elçi was assassinated in 2015 while he was asking for the ceasefire in the Sur district. We also visited the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and the Human Rights Association of Diyarbakir. The three of them talked to us about the importance, in a context like this, to pursue these cases regardless the acknowledgment about the judiciary institutions in Turkey, the European Union and the United Nations letting them down. A lawyer in the HHRR Association of Diyarbakır stated We don’t want to give up the legal resistance. We know that the EU Human Rights Court is not the most effective but we won’t give up the legal race. Our aim is to prevent next cases to happen.

In the six months between the 1st of March and the 1st of August of 2021 833 cases were opened against Human Rights Advocates and 303 cases ended up in economic sanctions.

Among the amount of work that these organisations do together with the legal cases are the support to people that suffered torture. Teams of lawyers, psychologists and social workers work hard not only to help victims to overcome their trauma but, also they try to empower people since this torture is meant to cut them out of struggle. The social work approach is based on allowing them “to be part of society again but also part of activism”, said a social worker of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation.

Perpetrators of torture and other human rights violations have complete impunity within Turkey as there are no processes in place to even enact the sentences in favor of the victims, so torturers carry on with their normal lives.

But there are also the disappeared people. Around the world, we have many cases of people disappearing under strange circumstances and the governments doing nothing about it whilst human rights advocates allege serious violations of human rights: the mothers of the Mayo Square en Argentina; the mass graves in Spain; the teachers in Ayotzinapa; the asylum seekers’ children in the UK… In Turkey, the official figures say that 4000 people disappeared in the 90s. A political assessor of the DEM Party corrected that figure as 17,000. They showed us their room with the files they have about disappeared people. A lot of the mothers that were applicants for these cases already died and the cases are followed by second and third generations of relatives.

Shelves of boxes relating to disappeared persons
The files of the disappeared people in Turkey that the Human Rights Association of Diyarbakır has custody of in their offices

We then joined the Human Rights Association of Turkey in their weekly protest against the Turkish state for all the people lost in the 1990 massacres in Bakur. These protests have been happening every Saturday for over 15 years in both Istanbul and Amed.

Around 17,000 people went missing and each week the people of Amed gather to ask where are they?

Protest for justice for disappeared people in Turkey

Amed, 21.03.2024

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey:

Human Rights Association of Diyarbakir

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