The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Turkey

https://www.humantruth.info/turkey_human_rights_and_freedom.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#afghanistan #gender_equality #iraq #prejudice #syria #turkey #turkey_women #women

Turkey
Republic of Turkey

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index61st best
LocationAsia, Europe, The Mediterranean, The Middle East
Population82.3m1
Life Expectancy76.03yrs (2017)2

Turkey is generally poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world. Turkey does better than average in the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)3, commentary in Human Rights Watch reports4, LGBT equality5, opposing gender inequality6, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms7, its nominal commitment to Human Rights8 and in speed of uptake of HR treaties9. Turkey does not succeed in everything, however. Turkey does worse than average in freethought10 (still low for Asia) and in supporting press freedom11. And finally, it sits amongst the bottom 20 in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice12. But progress is always going to be difficult in a country where the richest 1% hold 23% of the country's entire income13, and the wealthy dominate the poor. A new era of censorship has begun, with websites, media outlets and journalists being blocked and persecuted; Human Rights Watch states that "Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists and media workers as they face criminal investigations and trials"14. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan espouses misogynistic and backwards opinions on women, actively holding back any chance of progress on women's rights and retarding family life and family planning services15. Turkey has also gone backwards on its stance against torture, with a raft of reports from 2017 emanating from those in police custody describing torture and ill-treatment14.


1. Turkey's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank16
1Hong Kong24.3
2Taiwan28.2
3Japan41.9
...
8Armenia71.4
9Philippines78.3
10Kyrgyzstan79.5
11Turkey82.4
12Russia83.0
13Israel83.3
14Azerbaijan86.9
15Singapore87.4
16Tajikistan87.8
Asia Avg99.9
q=51.
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank16
1Sweden9.0
2Norway14.5
3Denmark14.5
...
79Trinidad & Tobago81.4
80Macedonia82.0
81Mali82.2
82Turkey82.4
83Russia83.0
84Dominican Rep.83.1
85Israel83.3
86Andorra84.0
World Avg87.9
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark17. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu17.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe17, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia17.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Turkey stated:

Baseless investigations, prosecutions and convictions of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians and others persisted. Parliament introduced draconian amendments to existing laws that further restricted freedom of expression online. Police used unlawful force to detain hundreds of participants in banned Pride marches in several provinces, and the right to peaceful assembly remained severely curtailed. The Council of State declined to overturn a 2021 decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. The country continued to host the world’s largest number of refugees, but violent summary returns of Afghans and others resulted in deaths and other serious injuries, against a backdrop of rising anti-refugee racist rhetoric by politicians and in the media. There were serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)18

Turkey has accepted huge numbers of refugees and asylum seekers - 3.4 million of them - mostly from Syria but also from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere14.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better4
Pos.2017
Score4
1=UK9
1=France9
1=Germany9
...
50Brazil-2
51=Argentina-2
51=Georgia-2
51=Turkey-2
51=Tunisia-2
51=Mexico-2
51=Sri Lanka-2
51=S. Africa-2
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9
q=123.
Turkey comes 49th in the world when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better8
Pos.2009
Treaties8
1Argentina24
2=Chile23
2=Costa Rica23
...
76Timor-Leste (E. Timor)17
77=Estonia17
77=Turkmenistan17
77=Turkey17
77=Morocco17
77=Guinea17
77=Russia17
77=Armenia17
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1
q=194.
Turkey ranks 75th in the world in terms of its nominal commitment to Human Rights.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better9
Pos.2019
Avg Yrs/Treaty9
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
81China9.36
82Lesotho9.44
83Gabon9.47
84Turkey9.48
85Malta9.60
86Luxembourg9.67
87Nigeria9.71
88Vietnam9.72
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02
q=195.
Turkey ranks 84th in the world in terms of speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better7
Pos.2014
Rank7
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
70=Namibia69
71Bolivia71
72Indonesia72
73Turkey73
74=S. Africa74
74=Papua New Guinea74
76Nicaragua76
77=Paraguay77
Asia Avg94.6
World Avg79.7
q=159.
Turkey comes 73rd in the world in terms of supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)19

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better11
Pos.201311
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
150Myanmar (Burma)4471
151Gambia4509
152Mexico4530
153Turkey4656
154Swaziland4676
155Azerbaijan4773
156Belarus4835
157Egypt4866
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249
q=178.
Turkey is positioned 153rd in the world in terms of supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index20

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

The recent political changes, consolidating the power of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has taken place amidst the forced closure of hundreds of media outlets, associations and foundations, all shut down by decree14.

The prosecution and jailing of journalists for doing their work continued after the closing of media outlets since the coup attempt. Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists and media workers as they face criminal investigations and trials, with around 150 behind bars at time of writing. Most newspapers and television channels lack independence and promote the government´s political line.

Several major, politically motivated trials of journalists on terrorism-related charges began in 2017. The evidence consisted of writing and reporting, which did not advocate violence, alongside unsupported allegations of connections with terrorist organizations or involvement in the coup attempt. That trials continued despite the lack of credible evidence to substantiate the charges demonstrated lack of judicial independence.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)14

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery
Lower is better
21
Pos.2018
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2=Canada0.05
2=Taiwan0.05
...
117Tanzania0.62
118=Equatorial Guinea0.64
118=Ukraine0.64
120Turkey0.65
121=Niger0.67
121=Zimbabwe0.67
123Togo0.68
124=Cameroon0.69
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65
q=167.
Regarding eliminating modern slavery, Turkey is 120th in the world.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi29, Eritrea29, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

Turkey has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

In 2016 Mar, Turkish president Recep Tayyip epitomized the traditional and established opinion of "woman's place" in Turkey, repeating several slurs against modern gender equality. He managed to include a criticism of contraception in general, saying that it is used to 'dry up our nation'. Contraception and modern life 'paves the way for abuses against women in all fields' and in particular, capitalism 'enslaves' women for profits. What he's talking about is (1) women making choices as to when they want children, and (2) women being able to work. Tayyip doesn't support either right and he has repeatedly called on Turkish women to have at least 3 children, even in a country that is suffering from overpopulation and serious issues with quality of life. He has described abortion as 'murder' and Caesarean sections as unnatural. His embarrassing and backwards opinions are holding back the entire country.15

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
6
Pos.20156
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
66Tajikistan0.32
67Trinidad & Tobago0.32
68Azerbaijan0.33
69Turkey0.33
70Kuwait0.33
71Vietnam0.34
72Romania0.34
73Mexico0.35
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36
q=159.
Turkey comes 69th in the world when it comes to opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
3
Pos.2022
%3
1Sweden31.832
2New Zealand34.433
3Australia37.033
...
40Colombia91.233
41Bolivia91.333
42Russia91.433
43Turkey91.633
44China91.833
45Armenia92.133
46Ecuador92.333
47Venezuela92.433
Asia Avg94.24
World Avg83.93
q=88.
In terms of the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), Turkey comes 43rd in the world.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
Pos.0
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
37=Maldives1932
37=Uruguay1932
37=Thailand1932
40Turkey1934
41=Brazil1934
41=Cuba1934
43Myanmar (Burma)1935
44Philippines1937
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930
q=189.
Turkey ranks 40th in the world when it comes to the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
12
Pos.2014
%12
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
82Iran56
83Armenia58
84Malaysia61
85=Turkey69
85=Greece69
87Saudi Arabia74
88Egypt75
89Oman76
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8
q=101.
Turkey comes 17th-worst in the world in terms of its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews34,35,36,37. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East38, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews39,40. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"41. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males42.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
5
Pos.2017
Score5
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
71=Macedonia25
71=Cape Verde25
71=Moldova25
71=Turkey25
71=Latvia25
71=Dominican Rep.25
71=Seychelles25
71=Panama25
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6
q=196.
Turkey ranks 66th in the world when it comes to LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence43. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws44. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries43. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
10
Pos.202110
1=Belgium1.0
1=Netherlands1.0
1=Taiwan1.0
...
131St Lucia3.3
132Solomon Islands3.5
133=Togo3.5
133=Turkey3.5
133=Turkmenistan3.5
133=Poland3.5
133=Tanzania3.5
133=Guyana3.5
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0
q=196.
(still low for Asia)Regarding freethought, Turkey is positioned 132nd in the world.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights45. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish46. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era47 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted48. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief49. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands10,50 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia10,51.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed52. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief46, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion53 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"54 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#atheism #islam #religion_in_turkey #turkey

The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)55, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Turkey states:

The Constitution protects freedom of religion or belief, guaranteeing equal protection before the law, irrespective of 'philosophical belief, religion and sect'. It also lists secularism as one of the fundamental characteristics of the republic. However, there are a few constitutional provisions which infringe on freedom of religion or belief and go against the principle of secularism.

Religion classes at primary and secondary schools are compulsory. Article 42 requires this education to be conducted under the 'supervision and control of the state'. While these classes cover basic information about other religions, they are predominantly about the theory and practice of Sunni Hanefi Islam. The state allocates substantial funds to provide religious services for Sunni Muslims: to pay the salaries of imams, construct mosques and oversee pilgrimage.

Cases of Discrimination

On June 1, 2012, Turkish authorities charged Fazil Say, an atheist and world-renowned classical and jazz pianist, with insulting Islamic values in Twitter messages, the latest in a series of legal actions against Turkish artists, writers and intellectuals for statements they have made about religion and Turkish national identity. Say has denied the charges, but a court in Istanbul has scheduled the case to begin on February 18, 2013. If convicted, he faces up to 18 months in prison.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)55