The People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP’s) Youth Council presented the findings of its annual report on the problems and violations the youth in Turkey were subjected to during 2020 in a press conference in Istanbul, Jin News reports.
HDP MP Dersim Dağ, drawing upon the findings of the report, stated that: “In 2020, at least 2,090 people were subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the police during the peaceful protests held in Turkey. More than 160 people were kidnapped by the police or people who introduced themselves as ‘intelligence agents’. Most of these abducted people were young people”.
Forced kidnappings targeting the youth
“It is noteworthy that these kidnapped young people were either students or politically active as members of political parties”, she noted and continued: “Twenty three students lost their lives during the protests they took part inSeven hundred and twenty students were injured due to the police violence and civilian attacks”.
The HDP MP also stressed that the forced kidnappings targeting the youth had some specific characteristics to them in 2020. “Despite all our legal attempts for justice, the judicial authorities launched no investigation against any of the perpetrators of these kidnappings, which all took place in daylight and in public places. And at the same time, our young friends, who filed a criminal complaint regarding the kidnapping incidents they were subjected to, faced investigations against them”, Dağ said.
Youth unemployment rates
“The youth unemployment rate was 24.3% in 2020 (15-24 age group).This meant that approximately one in every four young people in the country were unemployed. However, this percentage has increased up to 40% at the present time”, she noted.
The report also revealed that 20% of university graduates in the 15-34 age group (which makes up a total of 961,000 people) are unemployed. “There are nearly 2 million young people who hold a valid university degree who are unemployed”, Dağ said.
Educational concerns during the pandemic
According to HDP Youth Council’s report, six million students in Turkey have not had proper access to education during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Students have not been provided tablets, or they have not already had internet connections at home, so they have not been able to reach online education systems and tools, which were adopted by most educational institutions during the pandemic. This situation is even worse in the rural areas, especially the mostly Kurdish populated regions of the country”, Dağ said.
‘Trustee politics’ has detrimentally affected Kurdish youth
Dağ also noted that the ‘trustee politics’ of Turkey in Kurdish majority cities continued to prevent the youth’s access to cultural activities like theatre, cinema, art, photography and music during 2020. “
They shut down the institutions in cities where young people receive professional training in fields such as theatre, music, cinema, photography, painting and literature. The trustees either closed these cultural intitutions or handed their administrations to people close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which eventually turned these institutions to pro-governmental agencies in a systematic effort to organise Kurdish youth to become the partisans of the government”, the HDP MP said.
Dağ also listed the following concerns as having a negative impact on Kurdish youth in eastern and southeastern Turkey:
- The institutions struggling to combat drugs usage, which is a big threat to the youth of the region, were shut down by the trustees.
- Educational programmes, social projects and scholarships supplied by the municipalities were all halted after the trustess were appointed to the local municipalities as mayors.
- Summer camps for children and college preparation courses for the teenagers were cancelled by the trustees.
- Arts and culture festivals in the region, mainly organised in the fields of theatre and cinema, were banned by the trustees.
Appeal to youth to struggle against the infringement of their rights
“Protecting our future and all our living spaces against this ‘dirty mentality’ should be our main priority”, said Dağ, who became an MP when she was twenty-two. She has continued being an MP since she was elected in 2018.
In her appeal to the youth to undertake a struggle against all these crucial violations of rights, Dağ said: “We young people do not want to spend even one day desperate, unemployed, poor, murdered and threatened by oppressive policies. That is why we must fight this dark mindset more than ever: we must give all our strength and energy to this struggle”.