The second Democracy and Freedom Conference, organised in the German capital Berlin to discuss the political situation in Turkey, ended on Sunday, and the conclusions were read out as a statement by Latife Akyüz, an academic, and Can Dündar, a prominent Turkish journalist, both in self-imposed exile.*
The statement started with a ‘damage assessment’:
“A mafia-like one-man regime has carried out a total destruction of state institutions, and caused collapse and corruption everywhere. All oppressed peoples; Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Yazidis, Romanies and others are terrorised every new day with increasing violence. There is no institution, social structure or any space where rights are fought for that hasn’t been subjected to policies of repression. Society is punished by poverty, and the fields of judiciary, media, academia, health, economy, education, culture and the arts have been devastated.”
“A large section of society, from the Academicians for Peace to people stripped of their rights by presidential decrees, have been sentenced to civil death. The right to represent the people and the autonomous structure of many institutions, and local government and universities in particular, have been removed by the state policy of appointing trustees to positions of influence. Judicial detention has become unlawful captivity as a result of the state policy of holding political hostages. Nature and the environment are being plundered. The intellectual wealth of the country is rapidly turning to wasteland as the brain drain accelerates. Gender discrimination and violence targeting women, children and LGBTQ+ individuals increase every day. The withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention in such a period has lent a certain ‘legitimacy’ to femicide.”
The statement expressed confidence in the democracy struggle in Turkey, saying that this struggle had led to a victory in the local elections in 2019 which fuelled hopes for a better future. It called for wider alliances for democracy and further involvement of labour organisations, the women’s movement and ecological movements in these alliances.
Three working groups were established at the end of the conference.
The ‘diplomacy and media working group’ will focus on delivering the resolutions of the conference to various political groups and media outlets around the world and on exposing the ‘other face’ of Turkey.
The ‘public relations working group’ will create the means to have the initiative of the conference participants shared by larger circles. It will work to build public support for the demand for democracy and freedom through festivals, forums, concerts and other mass events.
The ‘rights and justice working group’ will report on decisions of the Turkish judiciary and reflect the injustices more efficiently on global scale. It will also work on creating mechanisms to respond to the rights violations and legal problems faced by exiles from Turkey.
* Latife Akyüz was dismissed from the university because of her signature in a petition calling for peace, while Can Dündar had to flee Turkey to avoid a life imprisonment over his reporting on arms transport by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency to jihadist groups in Syria.