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Country Report: Türkiye

Abdullah Öcalan's equalitarian doctrines guide the Kurdish autonomous region of Rojava in NE Syria. He has been a political prisoner in Turkey since 2009. credit: Medya News

Genocide Watch Country Report: Türkiye (Turkey)

August 2022

Following the failed coup d’état in 2016, the Turkish government imposed anti-terrorism laws to legitimize the suppression of civil liberties and human rights. It has also repeatedly invaded Syria and bombed Iraq.

Since 2016, the Turkish government has prosecuted journalists and activists in Türkiye for “defamation, insulting the president or spreading terrorist propaganda.” Thousands of opponents of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been arrested, tortured, murdered, and "disappeared."  In June 2022, 20 Kurdish journalists were detained on charges of terrorism. Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chair of the Human Rights Association, was detained on June 25 at a vigil to protest suspicious "disappearances."  

In July 2021, Türkiye withdrew from the Council of Europe’s treaty for the protection of women against violence, the Istanbul Convention. We Will Stop Femicide, the largest women’s rights NGO in Türkiye, is on trial. The NGO reported 497 murders of women in 2021. Türkiye bans Women’s Day marches and uses tear gas against marchers.  

Türkiye validates its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention by claiming it normalizes homosexuality which is “incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values”. Homosexuality is legal in Türkiye, but LGBTQI+ persons are frequently arrested. All LGBTQI+ activities were banned in Ankara in 2018. Turkish leaders commonly use anti-LGBTQI+ hate speech and justify discrimination against LGBTQI+ people. 

Turkey has persecuted its Kurdish minority since 1924 through mass murders, deportations, and denial of Kurdish ethnic identity. Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was abducted, tried, sentenced to death, and since 2009 has been imprisoned at Imralı prison in the Sea of Marmara. His equalitarian political theories guide Rojava, an autonomous Kurdish region of northeastern Syria. He strongly supports the equality of women and has renounced violence in the Kurdish quest for autonomy.

President Tayyip Erdoğan’s invasion of Afrin and Northern Syria in 2019 left hundreds of civilians dead and over 100,000 displaced. Turkish forces used white phosphorous munitions against Kurdish civilians. These war crimes have gone uninvestigated and unpunished. In June 2022, President Erdoğan threatened another invasion of Northern Syria and the Turkish Airforce bombed Iraqi Kurdistan.

Türkiye justifies invading Syria under the guise of creating a resettlement zone for Syrian refugees. In fact, Syrian refugees are being forcibly deported to the region. Türkiye is targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of Rojava based on purported links with the PKK. President Erdoğan’s goal is forced deportation of Kurds from the Syrian-Turkish border.  

Türkiye denies the genocides committed by the Ottoman Empire from 1914-1923 against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks. The Turkish Foreign Ministry hosts a website dedicated to denying the Armenian Genocide. Türkiye names streets celebrating Armenian and Assyrian Genocide perpetrators.

Türkiye is at Stage 8: Persecution of Kurds. It is at stages Organization (5) and Polarization (6), against journalists and human rights advocates. It is at stages Discrimination (3) and Dehumanization (4) against LGBTQI+ people. Türkiye is at stage Denial (10) concerning the Ottoman Empire’s genocides against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks.

Genocide Watch recommends:  

  • Türkiye should pass legislation forbidding discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons. 

  • NATO allies should continue their arms embargo on Türkiye, and the USA should deny Türkiye’s request for new F-16 fighter jets and upgrades on existing jets.  

  • Türkiye should withdraw all of its troops from northern Syria.

  • The US, EU and UN Human Rights Council should demand the release of thousands of persons arrested under Erdoğan’s "anti-terrorism" laws, including Abdullah Öcalan.

Turkey Country Report 2022
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