For those who still con­sid­er Turkey as a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, I hes­i­tat­ed between two themes today: snow or human rights?

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Yes, ignor­ing that it snows a lot in win­ter in Turkey means get­ting lost in more than ori­en­tal­ism on the top­ic, and it also means one has missed two superb films of our cin­e­ma: Yol (by Yıl­maz Güney et Şerif Gören. Released in 1982, it won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Fes­ti­val) and Uzak (by Nuri Bilge Cey­lan, which also won a prize in Cannes, France). Take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to see them again, you will know what I am talk­ing about.

But our Reis has already had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­ment over the snow, mean­ing I will be brief on this topic.

In the East­ern and North­ern half of the coun­try, schools have shut down, giv­en the heavy snow­falls. And in Bahçe­saray, province of Van, on Feb­ru­ary 4 and 5, more than 40 peo­ple lost their life in an avalanche, lead­ing Tayyip yet again, as for the earth­quake, to invite Turkey to inter­pret the hard­ships sent by God as proof of the need to unite around his war­mon­ger­ing… There are days when you would rather have snow on your TV screen also.

But what I found inter­est­ing was pre­cise­ly the fact that, in the eyes of the report on human rights, Turkey did not emerge as white as snow in 2019.

In order to obtain and read the report from the İDH (the Human Rights Asso­ci­a­tion in Turkey) you must, of course, read oth­er things than the regime’s media. Thus, I set off to enquire from a lit­tle ant.

The report was pre­pared by the Diyarbakır branch of the İDH.

I am thus read­ing “ter­ror­ist pro­pa­gan­da” in com­mu­ni­cat­ing this con­tent, titled “Report on the vio­la­tions of human rights in 2019”.

In the pre­am­ble, I read: “In the year 2019, mas­sive vio­la­tions were observed of nation­al bor­ders, with mil­i­tary oper­a­tions beyond the fron­tiers, with polit­i­cal threats on free­dom of expres­sion and asso­ci­a­tion, and phys­i­cal inter­ven­tions; vio­la­tions of numer­ous ques­tions such as the right to life, involv­ing tor­ture and ill treat­ment; vio­la­tions in the pris­ons, vio­lence against women, pro­hi­bi­tions and vio­lent inter­ven­tions against the right to meet­ings and demon­stra­tions, free­dom of thought and expres­sion, prob­lems rel­a­tive to judi­cia­ry inde­pen­dence, free­dom of the press, the los of eco­nom­ic and social rights. It was a propsper­ous peri­od of con­stant increase in the vio­la­tion of rights.”

At this point, either you tell your­self “as usu­al, where the Kurds inves­ti­gate, they do so to spread their ter­ror­ist pro­pa­gan­da”, and turn to some­thing else, or you note that, Kur­dish or not, they are describ­ing an indis­putable real­i­ty, one that I know only too well.

They may well unleash an avalanche of insults against these find­ings, they will nev­er have enough of them to bury these dai­ly truths in Turkey. And no mat­ter what the Kemal­ist politi­cians pile up over the large fur bon­net of their leader in formalde­hyde, in order to hide the facts that stick out, all these vio­la­tions accumulate.


I con­tin­ue:

… Judi­cia­ry pow­er has become the most impor­tant and easy to use instru­ment to imple­ment these oppres­sive and cen­tral­iz­ing poli­cies by those in pow­er. The deci­sion ren­dered by the Euro­pean Court rel­a­tive to the vio­la­tion of rights in the request on behalf of Osman Kavala and the vio­la­tions it observed, as it did in the file on Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş, the means and meth­ods used by the courts and the judi­cia­ry units in order to refuse a decree of lib­er­a­tion clear­ly show what has become of judi­cia­ry pow­er. Dur­ing this peri­od, oppres­sions and arrests, tri­als and sanc­tions inflict­ed on defendors of human rights have reached their high­est level…”

The elected

… The appoint­ment of admin­is­tra­tors in munic­i­pal­i­ties won by the Peo­ples’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) at the local elec­tions on March 31 pro­vide anoth­er impor­tant instance where democ­ra­cy and free­doms were severe­ly curtailed.

This con­sti­tutes and ille­git­i­mate prac­tice against the right to vote and to be elect­ed, and it is incom­pat­i­ble with the law. It con­sti­tutes a vio­la­tion of the human rights of mil­lions of vot­ers. Elect­ed can­di­dates did not receive their man­dates and admin­is­tra­tors were appoint­ed, oth­ers were revoked after receiv­ing their man­dates, and these may­ors were ille­gal­ly arrest­ed.

Torture and imprisonments

… The report also notes that tor­ture and ill treat­ment per­sist in a gen­er­al­ized and sys­tem­at­ic way, also out­side deten­tion centers.

In pris­ons, anoth­er area where tor­ture has become com­mon­place and sys­tem­at­ic, it was not­ed that the num­ber of sick detainees increas­es dai­ly. Accord­ing to the data col­lect­ed by the HRA, there are 458 sick pris­on­ers, some in very seri­ous condition…

Should I continue?

So, it isn’t the snow that must dis­suade you from dream­ing of sun­ny times in Turkey but rather its regime and the con­stant vio­la­tion of human rights to which you would be an accom­plice by choos­ing a tan­ning ses­sion at the hotel or, for the expe­ri­enced, a bout of skiing.

You can access the full report in Turk­ish here.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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