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Defending Human Rights in Turkey: Stories that Need to Be Heard

A founding member and state party of the Council of Europe legally bound to nearly all of the fundamental human rights treaties, a bridge between “West” and “East” poised for EU membership. In the not too distant past, many considered Turkey an up and coming story of democratic transformation. Today human rights in Turkey are significantly at risk.

Nowadays Turkey displays an increasingly restrictive environment with distorted checks and balances and undermined rule of law. Turkey has become one of the illiberal state models in the world with thousands of journalists, academics, and government critics sacked, imprisoned, and charged with terrorist or treasonous crimes.

Throughout its volatile political history, it has never been safe or easy to defend human rights in Turkey. However, the current hostile context puts human rights defenders, whose nature of work is to reveal human rights violations and abuses by both state and non-state actors, in a highly dangerous position. The international community needs to be reminded of their courage and their struggles, and of the solidarity the international community owes to them at both personal, societal and high diplomatic levels.

The following are individuals who, despite the increasing difficulty and mounting pressure posed by the government, continue to defend human rights in Turkey.

The portrayals of these human rights defenders’ situation is a part of the series, “Defending Human Rights in Turkey: Stories that Need to Be Heard,” told by Tan Tunali, with illustrations by Marco Lambooij. Each month a new portrayal will be released.