TUSIAD has issued the following statement in accord with “Human Rights Day,” which commemorates the acceptance by the United Nations General Council of the Global Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948:
“Works to advance human rights standards in Turkey began with the Helsinki Summit and ascended with the EU candidacy process. Within the framework of this process many improvements have been made since 2001 including changes in the Constitution and countless laws. These endeavors helped Turkey approach its target of EU membership, and full membership negotiations began in 2005.
With the beginning of full membership negotiations, a clear deceleration in government’s impetus and implementation of political reforms was seen, affecting the entire public. The human rights issue, unfortunately, has come back to the agenda again, only this time in a negative view with infringements in the last few years.
While awaiting progress in areas such as free speech, cultural rights, minority rights and rights to a fair trial in Turkey, the breach by public officials of even the most principal of human rights, the right to life, has been witnessed. Instead of holding human rights standards to the highest level, starting from the mid 1990’s, torture, bad treatment and excessive police force have come again to dismantle the past footsteps of the Global Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by Turkey in 1949. The reluctant attitude of public officials to take the necessary steps in investigating these incidents and punishing those who are responsible creates unease in the public conscience. The repeated avoidance of the issue of these types of violations by public authorities is a cause for worry.
The procedures used by police forces to contain demonstrations and the attitude taken by civilian authorities are indicators of the fact that government has not internalized the progress made in the area of human rights. Considering these recent developments, how more advanced rights and freedoms can be achieved by the administration is questionable.
It is necessary for political power to return back to the agenda of democracy and human rights and for public administration to adapt this agenda. While human rights violations in Turkey have become more alarming every day, the government’s attitude of “protecting the state against the individual” contradicts Turkey’s democratization process and EU’s Copenhagen Criteria.”