In February 2017, an international peace delegation organized by the EU’s Turkey Civic Commission, comprising members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, academics, and journalists, visited Turkey in order to collect information about the state’s civil and human rights situation. The situation deteriorated following the breakdown of the Kurdish peace process in mid-June 2015 and the failed coup in mid-July 2016. The delegation, had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Kurdish Freedom Movement, political parties, trade unions, lawyers, academics, journalists, and civil society organizations in Istanbul and Diyarbakir in Southeast Turkey. Meetings were also held with people who had witnessed and/or experienced the curfews, military assaults and other human rights and humanitarian law violations. Unfortunately, the delegation’s requests for meeting Abdullah Ocalan, the currently imprisoned leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement, as well as for visiting the co-chair from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were rejected. This report provides details of the meetings that were held, and offers the delegation’s concluding observations on the situation in Turkey.
The delegation believes that, while the European Union is turning a blind eye, there have been systematic human rights violations and a climate of impunity in the country. The delegation is hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture will leverage pressure on Turkey to cease human rights violations against the Kurds. It is to be hoped that this will manifest in the award of reparations to civilians whose rights have been violated.