In Spring 2016 War Resisters' International launched a new campaign focusing on the escalating cycle of violence in Turkey. As part of this campaign, initiated in response to demands from WRI activists in Turkey, we have launched a petition addressing the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the European Union. The appeal was calling on the EU not to lose sight of the situation in Turkey, and to take action on the escalating violence in the country.
With the recent developments and changing context in Turkey, we have decided to end the appeal in September 2016. We are grateful for your support, which encourages us to continue our work on Turkey. The campaign so far included a delegation visit to the country, an advocacy trip by human rights defenders from Turkey to Europe, a number publications on the situation as well as the petition addressing the EU, and we are hoping to continue our work with new activities in the coming year. Below you can find WRI Chair Dr. Christine Schweitzer's letter on the appeal and updates from our campaign “Stop the Cycle of Violence in Turkey”:
We would like to give you an update on our campaign “Stop the cycle of violence in Turkey“. You are receiving this letter because you signed the appeal to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Federica Mogherini. When we started the appeal in March, little was to be found in the international media on the situation in Turkey. This has changed now, specially after the attempted coup in early July. And although the situation in South East Turkey - where the the violent conflict continues - is still not receiving the attention it deserves, we have decided to end this appeal. We thank all those who signed it. The signatures have been submitted to the office of Ms Mogherini; we are still waiting for a reply.
In its place, there is a new appeal on the petition platform WeMove that we support: https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/turkey
Please, consider signing this new appeal that has already been supported by more than 130,000 people. It reads:
“The European Union should immediately suspend all accession negotiations with the Turkish administration, while at the same time taking decisive steps to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are upheld in Turkey. This should include among others the continued work to strengthen civil society as well as engaging in constructive dialogue, starting with establishing an EU mission tasked with monitoring developments in the area of fundamental rights and the rule of law in Turkey.”
We would also like to briefly inform you on other activities in our ongoing campaign to stop the violence in Turkey.
Successful Advocacy Trip
In the second half of June, two representatives of Turkish human rights organisations - Coşkun Üsterci, executive member of the Human Rights Foundation and Gamze Yalçın, executive member of the Human Rights Association - travelled to Geneva, Vienna, Brussels and Strasbourg. They met with high-level human rights experts from the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Besides an exchange of information, they had concrete discussions about how Turkish human rights organisations could cooperate more closely with European institutions. In the current situation it is especially vital that these contacts were built in time.
Resolution of the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Council of Europe
A positive development happened one day before Coşkun Üsterci and Gamze Yalçın visited the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. On the 22nd June, its Parliamentarian Assembly (note: this took place before the attempted coup and its aftermath) made a resolution listing in detail the human rights violations committed in Turkey. They conclude with the sentence "the latest developments pertaining to freedom of the media and of expression, erosion of the rule of law and the human rights violations in relation to the anti-terrorist security operations in South East Turkey constitute a threat to the functioning of democratic institutions and the country's commitments to its obligations towards the Council of Europe“. The full text can be read here: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-DocDetails-EN.asp?FileID=22957&lang=EN Sadly, it has to be added that Turkey not only did not heed this appeal but has mid of July suspended its signature under the European Human Rights Convention.
Publication in German Language on the Situation in South East Turkey
For those who read German it may be interesting to note that Connection e.V., together with the Federation for Social Defence and the Austrian branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation have published a reader on the war in South East Turkey. It contains reports by different organisations in Turkey, an analysis of the war and information on nonviolent activities against the war. It can be ordered here: http://www.connection-ev.org/article-2298and / or http://bit.ly/29ZHUe4.
Next Steps for Our Work in Turkey
The initiators of the appeal, War Resisters' International and some of its affiliates, are planning new activities. In mid-September, a small group of us met with organisations in Turkey to discuss how best to support them in their courageous work in the current tense situation. If you would like to keep abreast of what we are doing, you can subscribe to the monthly WRI News (in English) writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or, if reading German, to a elist maintained by Connection e.V. in Germany:www.connection-ev.org/enews-tuerkei-form
With the best regards,
for War Resisters' International and its Turkey Working Group