US 2018 human rights report: Restrictions on fundamental freedoms continued in Turkey

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US Department of State building.

A country report by the US State Department released on Wednesday stated that despite the official end of a two-year-long state of emergency in July 2018, Turkey continued its restrictions on fundamental human rights.

According to the annual report on Turkey, part of the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018,” new laws and decrees codified some provisions from the state of emergency; subsequent antiterror legislation continued its restrictions on fundamental freedoms and compromised judicial independence and rule of law.

The report on Turkey included some figures to display human rights violations in the country. By the end of 2018, the report stated, authorities had dismissed or suspended more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs, arrested or imprisoned more than 80,000 citizens and closed more than 1,500 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on terrorism-related grounds since the coup attempt, primarily for alleged ties to cleric Fethullah Gülen and his movement, accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt and designated by the Turkish government as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (“FETO”).

However, the human rights issues were not limited to the purge but also included arbitrary killings; suspicious deaths of persons in custody; forced disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention of tens of thousands of persons, including opposition members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, foreign citizens, and three Turkish-national employees of the US Mission to Turkey for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech; political prisoners, including numerous elected officials and academics; closure of media outlets and criminal prosecution of individuals for criticizing government policies or officials; blocking websites and content; severe restriction of freedoms of assembly and association; restrictions on freedom of movement; and violence against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, and members of other minorities.

The detailed country report also provided many concrete examples of human rights abuses such as 28 disappearance cases across the country.

The US human rights report also referred to the Turkish government’s worldwide effort to apprehend suspected members of “FETO,” a term the government applied to the followers of Fethullah Gülen, also known as members of the Gülen movement.

According to the report, as of November, estimated total prison inmate population in Turkey was 260,144 in government-operated detention facilities with a capacity of 211,766 inmates.

The report stated prison overcrowding as a significant problem as well as lack of access to sufficient health care for inmates, among other issues.

Turkey witnessed a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and the human rights violations have been significantly on the rise as the government has imposed severe measures on critics of the regime since that date.

Source: Turkish Minute

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