We are all hostages in this geography
*by Eren Keskin
Last week, we met in Ankara with an embassy delegation from one of the European Union countries. As in all similar meetings, they told us how saddened and worried they were about the rights violations, especially in freedom of expression, and the pressure on human rights defenders.
When listening to them, it can be challenging to know what to say, but I am fully aware that we need to convey this: Yes, these rights abuses are occurring, and you are involved in them. Indeed, serious rights abuses are happening in our region, I answered without giving it any thought. The Republic of Turkey is a signatory to too many international treaties and a party to too many of them, yet it breaches every one. Turkey violates the international conventions it is a signatory to on many issues, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right not to be tortured, the prohibition of discrimination, and these conventions have monitoring mechanisms. However, these mechanisms are still being used against Turkey.
That's why I said, don't worry, take action, because the European Union is well aware of the rights violations in Turkey. But it does nothing. So don't just express anger; if you are upset, do something.
Of course, this attitude quite surprised them. They expressed their sadness; they said things like, "We are also very sad, but we cannot do anything". None of this is convincing. Unfortunately, the term "human rights" has been turned into a "toy" for some European countries. Especially in our geography, they are guilty of not criticizing the state's policies and remaining silent against them.
Last week's verdict in the Gezi Park case upset us all. We all knew this was a revenge case, but using the law as a tool at such an extraordinary level was mind-boggling. They are all good people who would never hurt a fly; we knew them all. Sentences like life imprisonment and 18 years are unreasonable.
Before the Gezi Park trial, mentioning the great lawlessness that has been going on for years is necessary. Especially the Kobani case, symbolized by the severe rights violations against Kurdish civilian politicians, and that many of them are still in prison, actually meant the end of the Kurds' demands for peace through judicial pressure.
They are all our close friends. All the civilian politicians on trial today in the Kobani have fought for years in the Human Rights Association; we have worked with all of them for years. They have been in prison for years just because their thoughts are different because they think differently from the state on the peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.
We are already in judicial control or about to go to prison. We are all hostages in this geography. All dissidents continue to live as hostages.
This article is being written on the anniversary of the October 10 Ankara Train Station Massacre. An ISIS massacre occurred in Ankara Station Square on October 10, 2015. Thousands of people were in the square to express their demands for "Labor, Democracy, and Peace." A state with a strong security and intelligence apparatus ignored this protest.
Just as the protest was condoned, the judiciary protected and continues to protect the murderers. The court panel has been changed many times, and the lawyers have submitted thousands of pieces of evidence. In particular, the people's identities in the footage were requested to be investigated. None of them were fulfilled. Unfortunately, the judiciary continues to be used as a cover for another massacre.
Immediately after the explosion in Ankara, the attacks on Rojava and the Foreign Minister's remarks showed the strenuous days ahead of us.
However, as human rights defenders who have experienced such severe rights violations, nothing has stopped us. If we continue to live, our struggle will continue.