Human rights lawyer from Lawyers Association for Freedom (ÖHD) Ayşe Acinikli wrote an article about the violations of human rights to dead bodies for Yeni Özgür Politika.
A translation of selected parts of Ayşe Acinikli’s article as follows:
No equality, even in death
One commonality in humanity since the beginning of time is the pain felt in the face of a death and coping with this pain. People have a universal right to mourn. This right is recognised in all religions and all legal systems. Even in war, the desecration of the dead is regarded as a war crime. Desecration of the dead is also recognised as a crime in Turkish law.
The rights of a person who has died are not abrogated by their death. Even if a person is dead and buried they have the right to expect respect to their memory accorded to them by the fact of their having lived. This also includes the rights of the loved ones of the deceased person to deal with their dead in accordance with the obligations of their religion, to demand respect for the dead, the body and the grave, to be allowed to mourn in order to bring closure to the pain. In respect of all these rights, the importance of the whereabouts of the body, that is, the grave, is absolute.
These things should not need to be written about. But tragically, current experience dictates otherwise…
In Turkey in the last few years there has been an increase in cases of attacks on graveyards and bodies. Graveyards have been desecrated, bodies or bones have been exhumed and buried beneath pavements, bones of the dead have been sent to families by post, and funerals have been attacked in full view of all, including the police whose duty it is to protect them.
People have been denied the right to imams or other clerics, clerics have been intimidated, hearses or ambulances denied and huge fees demanded to transport bodies, people denied the right to hold a wake and numbers at funerals restricted to just two or three.
Your race, religion and political opinion are enough for you not to be seen not as a citizen, but as an enemy who deserves this abuse. Desecration of the dead serves both as intimidation of the family and an effective warning to others with the same political opinion.
Although these actions, aimed at punishing the deceased or their family are legally offences, complaints are not acted on, appeals are denied and applications to the Constitutional Court are rejected or dragged out indefinitely to delay any transfer to the international arena.
It is noteworthy that the places where religious rites are obstructed are the same places where elected council leaders have been removed and replaced by state appointed officials.
These actions are not actions which can be applied to citizens and individuals regarded as equals, and despite their proliferation, which should be causing a public outcry, the only voices heard are of those actually suffering the pain. It is an incontrovertible fact that the concept of “other” is at play.
The policy of impunity only goes to confirm that all of this is actually state policy. It is all by the hand of the state, no-one is penalised for actions that are crimes in law, and those carrying out these actions do so safe in this knowledge.
What they want is for this to become normalised, for people to become inured to it… Attacks against the dead are currently so frequent and widespread that people are reluctant to prepare graves for their children. That they cannot mourn and the graves cannot be closed means that the pain in the face of a death does not ease and the wounds continue to bleed. In this situation the most powerful form of resistance is not to become inured, to continue to call out the truth – that these things are crimes – and to increase the struggle.