Link Collection on Human Rights in Turkey

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The links relating to human rights in Turkey may lead to sources in English (en), German (de) and Turkish (tr). The direct links to sources in the English Wikipedia will have the prefix enwiki.

International human rights law

The University of Minnesota has pages on which country signed and ratified international and regional conventions on human right. The page on Turkey; accessed on 10 September 2009.

Further links:

European Court of Human Rights

Homepage of the Court

My pages:

The Right to Life

The right to life may not only be threatened by execution of death penalties. In particular during the 1990s there have been many instances of extra-judicial executions, (political) killings by unidentified perpetrators (faili meçhul cinayetler) and cases of "disappearances".

Capital punishment

enwiki:Capital punishment in Turkey Since October 1984 death penalties have not been executed in Turkey. Turkey abolished the sentence for peace time offences in 2002 and for all offences in 2004.

Extra-judicial executions

  • AI report of 15 March 1990 in this Wiki can be found at Extra-judicial Executions. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) determined the following figures on extra-judicial executions in Turkey for the years 1991 to 2001:[1]
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
98 283 189 129 96 129 98 80 63 56 37

On 18 December 2001 the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Asma Jahangir, presented a report on a visit to Turkey. The full report as pdf-file; accessed on 10 September 2009.

For the years 2000-2008 the Human Rights Association (HRA) presented the following figures on doubtful deaths/deaths in custody/extra judicial execution/torture by paid guard village[2]

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
173 55 40 44 47 89 130 66 65

Unsolved Killings

In a press release on 1 September 2009 (World Peace Day) the Human Rights Association stated that until the end of 2008 a total of 2,949 people had been killed by unknown perpetrators and 2,308 people had become victims of extra-judicial executions.[3]

A parliamentarian commission to research killings by unknown perpetrators (faili meçhul cinayetleri araştırma komisyonu) was founded in 1993 and worked for about two years. One member of the commission, Eyüp Aşık, stated that the enwiki:Turkish Hezbollah had been behind many of these killings.

The HRW backgrounder: What is Turkey's Hizbullah? was published on 16 January 2000; accessed on 12 September 2009. The HRW Report The Kurds of Turkey: Killings, Disappearances and Torture, March 1993, accessed on 12 September 2009

The following figures were presented in the annual reports of the HRFT between 1990 and 2001:

Year 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Victims 11 31 362 467 423 166 113 65 45 52 13 24

The Human Rights Association (HRA) presented the following figures for the years 1999 to 2008:[4]

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Victims 212 145 160 75 50 47 1 20 42 29


On 28 December 1998 the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances issued a Report on the visit to Turkey by two members of the Working Group from 20-26 September 1998. It stated inter alias: "Most of the disappearances concerned persons of Kurdish ethnic origin and occurred in the provinces of Diyarbakir and Siirt, in south-east Anatolia, where the armed and security forces are combating the PKK and where a state of emergency is in force. Some of the reported disappearances took place in Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul. Most of the cases followed the same pattern: the missing persons had allegedly been arrested at their homes on charges of belonging to the PKK and taken to the police station but their detention was later denied by the authorities."[5]

My pages:


Main article: Overview: Torture in Turkey

The widespread and systematic use of torture in torture in Turkey was first observed by enwiki:Amnesty International (AI) after the enwiki:1971 Turkish coup d'état. The File on Torture that was included in the newsletter of September 1987 is not available any more. A copy of images can be found as Illustrated_Reports_of_Amnesty_International in this wiki. Günter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enlargement of the European Union went to Turkey in September 2004 and maintained that torture was no longer systematic practice in Turkey.[6] HRA protested against this evaluation[7] and pointed at recent figures and definitions of systematic torture by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Committee against Torture.[8]

Since 2005 incidents of torture seem to be on the rise.[9] In the 2009 annual report enwiki:Amnesty International stated: "Reports of torture and other ill-treatment rose during 2008, especially outside official places of detention but also in police stations and prisons."[10]

Deaths in Custody

The AI report "Turkey: Deaths in Custody" was published in the newsletter of January 1989 and can be found as images under Illustrated_Reports_of_Amnesty_International.[11]

Prison conditions

In 2008 allegations of ill-treatment in prisons and during transfer continued. Small-group isolation remained a problem across the prison system for people accused or convicted of politically motivated offences.[12] The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey registered 39 deaths in prison.[13]

Freedom of Religion

The report of Amnesty International on Prosecution of Religious Activists was published in November 1987.

For general information the 2008 Human Rights Report of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (US State Department) are sufficient. The links goes to the 2009 report of 25 February 2009; accessed on 21 September 2009

Freedom of Expression

My pages:

The report of Amnesty International Turkey: Human Rights Denied appeared in November 1988 (AI Index: EUR/44/65/88); the report can be accessed at Illustrated_Reports_of_Amnesty_International (Freedom of expression are images 3-6)

Other documents:

Conscientious objection

Since 1989, 74 people have refused to perform compulsory military service in Turkey. Only six of them have been tried for being a conscientious objector or sent to the military unit they were assigned to after being captured.[14]

In September 2009 the Turkish press reported that the Turkish government is considering creating regulations regarding conscientious objectors. According to the amendment planned on the issue, those refusing to perform compulsory military service will no longer be forcibly drafted to the military while they are under detention and will be able to be defended by a lawyer while being tried. They will also be able to benefit from the Probation Law.[14]

Freedom of Assembly

Deaths due to excessive police force during demonstrations have a long history in Turkey. They include

  • enwiki:Taksim Square massacre of 1 May 1977, death toll varies between 34 and 42
  • Further casualties on 1 May Labour Day (all in Istanbul):
    • 1989: 1 person killed[15]
    • 1996: 3 demonstrators killed.
  • Newroz as celebrated by Kurds usually on or around 21 March each year
    • Newroz 1991: 31 people shot dead[16] The annual report of the enwiki:Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) reported that one demonstrator was killed in Nusaybin.[17]
    • Newroz 1992: The Newroz festivities left at least 91 people dead in three towns of the southeast, Cizre, Sirnak and Nusaybin, and 9 others elsewhere in the region, and according to Helsinki Watch, 'all or nearly all of the casualties resulted from unprovoked, unnecessary and unjustified attacks by Turkish security forces against peaceful Kurdish civilian demonstrators'.[18]
    • Newroz 1993: Three people were killed in Adana and Batman.[19]
  • Different occasions
    • Funeral of Vedat Aydin in Diyarbakir in June 1991, 15 people were shot dead[20] The annual report of the HRFT reported that seven demonstrators were killed.[21]
    • Demonstration in Digor because of the 9th anniversary of the beginning of the armed fight of the PKK on 15 August 1984. 15 demonstrators were killed.[22]
    • 20 people died in Gazi and 1 May quarter of Istanbul during an unrest that started with shots on coffee shop frequented by Alevis.[23]
    • Funeral of PKK militants at the end of March 2006: 13 people were killed in Diyarbakir and further places[24]

Freedom of Association

Until March 2008 a total of 26 political parties had been banned, two of them before the Constitutional Court (the place where such decisions are taken) was established on 25 April 1962.[25] This figure does not include the 18 political parties that were banned immediately after the 1980 coup d'état and dissolved on 16 October 1981. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed Law 2533 on 19 June 1992 allowing these parties to be opened again.[26]

The Foundation for social, economic and political research (TESAV) has detailed information on the closure of political parties. They list ten political parties (instead of two) that were closed before the Constitutional Court was established.[27] The details in collapsible tables shall be included in enwiki:Human rights in Turkey

For the number of associations, trade unions, political parties and cultural centres that were closed down or raided the Human Rights Association presented the following figure for the years 1999 to 2008:[28]

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Closure 169 130 146 127 47 13 5 6 13 11
Raids 266 156 216 83 88 35 7 48 36 103



Basic information (tr) is provided at Questions and Answers on Women's Right, prepared by the Human Rights Agenda Association; accessed on 14 October 2009.

Representation of women in political and decision making bodies is low. In the enwiki:Grand National Assembly of Turkey the percentage of women is 9.1 (17.3 percent is the average in the world). In 1975 the percentage was 10.9 and in 2006 it was 16.3.[29]


Homosexual sexual relationships between consenting adults in private is not a crime in Turkey. The age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual sex is eighteen. Homosexuals have the right to exemption from military service, if they so request, only if their "condition" is verified by medical and psychological tests, which often involves presenting humiliating, belittling graphic proof of homosexuality, and anal examination.[30]

On 21 May 2008 Human Rights Watch published a 123-page report documenting a long and continuing history of violence and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Turkey. An online edition of the report can be found at “We Need a Law for Liberation”.

  • See also: Hate Crimes in Turkey; Documentation prepared by the Democratic Turkey Forum, cases between 2007-2009

Internally Displaced People

Around a million people became displaced from towns and villages in south-eastern Turkey during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of the insurgent actions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the counter-insurgency policies of the Turkish government.[31]

In July 2008 Beşir Atalay, Minister of the Interior, answered a request by CHP for Adıyaman province, Şevket Köse. He said that 314,000 people had applied for aid in order to return to their village. As of May 2008 151,469 people had returned to their villages in 14 provinces. They had been paid about 530 million Turkish pounds.[32]

On 12 April 2006, Human Rights Watch researcher Jonathan Sugden was detained by police in Bingöl, while he was carrying out research in the predominately Kurdish southeast of the country into the possibilities for IDPs to return and abuses allegedly involving the Turkish gendarmerie and government-armed local defense units called “village guards.” He was deported to London the next day.[33]



  1. Source: Report for 2001, published on 10 March 2003, Ankara, ISBN 975-7217-38-7, page 49 (Turkish)
  2. The comparative balance sheet of the HRA is available in English; accessed on 10 September 2009
  3. The press release is available in Turkish, accessed on 11 September 2009
  4. Figures were taken from the Turkish version of the comparative balance sheet; accessed on 12 September 2009
  5. Full text of the Report of the UN Working Group; accessed on 13. September 2009
  6. See a press release of the European People's Party in the European Parliament of 6 October 2004; accessed on 14 September 2009
  7. See press release of 10 September 2004 (Turkish); accessed on 14 September 2009
  8. See paragraph 36 of the Report A/48/44/Add.1 of 15 November 1993 of the UN Committee against Torture; accessed on 14 September 2009
  9. See 2008 Human Rights Report: Turkey, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor as part of the US Department of State on February 25, 2009; accessed on 16 September 2009
  10. The report reflecting the development in 2008 was accessed on 17 August 2009
  11. The complete report of 18 April 1989 "Turkey: Torture and Deaths in Custody (AI Index: EUR 44/38/89) can be found at; accessed on 17 September 2009; the list can be found at; accessed on 17 September 2009
  12. Compare the 2009 Report of Amnesty International; accessed on 20 September 2009
  13. 2008 Annual Report to be found on the pages of the Democratic Turkey Forum (Turkish); accessed on 20 September 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 See an article in the Turkish daily Zaman (Today) of 8 September 2009
  15. See the Turkish Wikipedia
  16. The independent correspondence network BIANET on 20 March 2003, Article by Hacer Yildirim Foggo, Turkish, accessed on 12 October 2009
  17. Annual Report 1991, Ankara January 1992, (Turkish version) page 62
  18. Turkey's Kurdish Policy in the Nineties, paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association in Washington, DC in December 1995 by Lord Eric Avebury
  19. HRFT: Annual Report 1993, Ankara June 1994, (English version) page 41
  20. German press statement of a delegation to South-East Turkey; accessed on 12 October 2009
  21. Annual Report 1991, Ankara January 1992, (Turkish version) page 62
  22. HRFT, Annual Report 1993, Ankara June 1994, (English version) page 114
  23. HRFT: Annual Report 1995, Ankara February 1997, ISBN 975-7217-13-1 (English version) page 193
  24. See the weekly summary of events in Turkey; published by the Democratic Forum in German, week 14/2006
  25. Article in Samanyolu of 16 March 2008, Turkish; accessed on 12 October 2009
  26. Yeni Özgür Politka of 17 March 2008; accessed on 12 October 2009
  27. In October 2009 the website of TESAV had direct links to the documents in Turkish.
  28. The statistics of the Human Rights Association are also available in English; accessed on 12 October 2009.
  29. UN Joint Program for the Development of Women and Children's Rights, Turkish: Türkiye'de Kadın Olmak; accessed on 14 October 2009
  30. Turkey/Military service report of the Directorate for Movements of Persons, Migration and Consular Affairs; Asylum and Migration Division in the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, published July 2001
  31. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in its country report 2008
  32. Source found on 14 October 2009
  33. See the press release of Human Rights Watch; accessed on 14 October 2009