The Human Rights Organisation (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) on Wednesday released their reports on violations of rights in Turkey within the first 11 months of 2021. They also published a statement, indicating that the political administration was responsible for the high rate of violations in 2021. The statement said:
“As a result of the political administration’s policies which have turned all issues, from economy to health, into a security issue, which have polarised the society and opted for violence both domestically and abroad, which have selected war as only method in the solution of the Kurdish Question and international issues, a high number of violations of the right to life occurred in 2021.”
According to the reports, 15 civilian deaths occurred as a result of actions by state forces. Nine were killed and 23 injured in extrajudicial executions or as they were shot by the police for failing to stop at security checks. At least six – four of them children – were killed and 15 were injured as they were run over by police vehicles.
The reports indicate that there were 22 prisoner deaths resulting from illnesses, suicide, violence or negligence in incarceration facilities.
Nine died in attacks linked to racist attacks while 29 (10 of whom were refugees and foreign nationals), were injured due to such attacks.
231 killed in Turkey’s military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan
There are also findings on fatalities in Turkey’s military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Libya. Fifty Turkish state troops, 177 Kurdish fighters and four civilians were reportedly killed during Turkey’s operations in Iraqi Kurdistan while 15 Turkish soldiers were reportedly injured.
The reports also emphasised that there is total impunity over reported cases of cross border attacks by Turkish armed drones that have resulted in multiple deaths.
915 individuals applied to TİHV regarding complaints about torture and maltreatment during the first 11 months of 2021 while İHD reported that there had been at least 415 cases of torture and maltreatment in detention centres.
Peaceful demonstrations banned and attacked
The police attacked at least 291 peaceful demonstrations while 88 demonstrations were banned. Twenty two of the demonstrations were attacked and eight of the demonstrations that were banned were those organised by women or LGBT+ groups. Fifty seven student demonstrations were attacked and six were banned. Nine demonstrations for ecological justice were attacked and at least 100 were detained in these demonstrations.
The total number of people who have been subjected to torture and maltreatment by the police during peaceful demonstrations is at least 3,540 – including 28 children – according to the TİHV, while the İHD puts the number at 3,671. TİHV’s report states that 45 people have been injured in police attacks against peaceful protestors.
Abductions by state forces
There are also reports of abductions by state forces in the report by TİHV. It indicates that there have been 16 cases of abduction in which 17 individuals were abducted. While 11 of these people were subjected to torture and maltreatment, all except one were released within the day of their abduction and one was released five days later.
It is also stated that an individual named Galip Küçüközyiğit, who was not heard of after 9 December 2020, was found to be imprisoned in Sican L-Type Prison in the capital of Ankara only on 14 September 2021, more than nine months after his disappearance.
İHD reports that 371 prisoners have applied with regard to complaints of torture and maltreatment.
Violations of expression and press freedom
According to the reports, the number of journalists currently in prisons is 59. While 10 journalists including one in Germany were targeted in attacks, five were threatened by state forces, one detained for some time by people introducing themselves as ‘intelligence officers’ and the houses and offices of four were raided by the police. At least 10 journalists were subjected to violence during their reporting work and six were subjected to police violence. One journalist was found dead in suspicious circumstances.
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) suspended TV broadcasts three times, issued penalties on 19 media outlets 46 times, and blocked ad revenues of two dailies for a total of 17 days. Two media outlets were raided and five individuals were detained in the raids.
Criminal investigations for 39,601 individuals with social media accounts were launched due to the content on their accounts, 1,175 individuals were detained due to their social media content, and 52 were arrested.
At least 53 Websites, 945 news articles on the web, and 133 web content texts were blocked.
Charges of ‘terror,’ ‘inciting hatred’ abd ‘insulting the president’ for nearly 50,000 individuals
While 14 were detained and seven arrested for insulting the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a further 30 individuals have faced trial on the same charge, prominent actor Genco Erkal, the parents of Berkin Elvan who was killed by the police during the Gezi protests in Istanbul, and nine journalists among them. Thirteen of them have been sentenced to prison terms.
The number of people who have been facing trial on terror charges is 6,551 while the number of people who are still being investigated on these charges is 26,225. A further 20,710 people are being investigated on allegations of inciting hatred and hostility among people, and 2,064 are already facing trial on these charges.
One thousand, five hundred and nineteen individuals – including 10 children – were detained on charges of ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organisation’ or ‘being a member’ of such an organisation.
A total of 562 members of various political parties were detained, 494 members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) among them.