Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP)

  The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) is an independent, non-political, non-governmental organisation committed to protecting the human rights of all persons living within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the former Soviet Union. It is based in London and was founded in 1992. It is a registered charity in the UK.

  Since 1992 KHRP has worked, in partnership with lawyers and human rights organisations in the Kurdish regions, to promote and protect human rights. Its main activity has been a strategic and dynamic litigation programme that has involved representing more than 450 applicants from Turkey in their cases before the European Court of Human Rights. These cases have covered violations of the most fundamental human rights: the right to life, freedom from torture, freedom of expression and association and property rights. In parallel, KHRP has a proactive public awareness programme, carrying out research, fact-finding missions and trial observations, and publishing reports aimed at raising international awareness of the violations of human rights in Turkey and the other Kurdish regions. These have been disseminated to governments, the EU, OSCE, UN, in addition to a wider audience of lawyers, academics, human rights organisations and individuals. During the 10 years of its existence, KHRP has developed extensive expertise in the human rights situation in Turkey, its causes and solutions.

  In response to the Foreign Affairs Committee's decision to carry out an inquiry into the UK's relations with Turkey, with reference to, inter alia, its prospects for accession to the European Union, the KHRP would like to submit, for the Committee's consideration, the following two documents:

    —  "Turkey in Europe: Opportunity for Change?".[2] The material—which was submitted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in July 2000 and subsequently published in the form of a report and widely disseminated in November 2000—includes discussion of the steps needed in order for Turkey to conform with the human rights standards that form an essential component of conditions for EU accession, and Recommendations addressed to Turkey and the EU.

    —  KHRP's Recommendations to the UK Government.

  Since KHRP's report was published in November 2000 the Accession Partnership for Turkey has been formally adopted, including short and medium term "priorities and intermediate objectives", and two Regular Reports on Turkey's Progress Towards Accession have been produced by the European Commission in November 2000 and November 2001 respectively. These documents reflect many, but not all, of the concerns that are raised by KHRP in the attached report.

  Turkey, in March 2001, adopted its National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis, and on 3 October 2001 adopted a package of 34 changes to its Constitution of 1982. However, the changes fall far short of the EU's criteria set out in the Accession Partnership. The reform package offers only limits on the circumstances in which the death penalty can be imposed rather than its complete abolition. The practices that facilitate torture, such as incommunicado police detention and a lack of prompt access to legal counsel, are not addressed. Although some loosening of the bans on minority language rights are included, education in Kurdish remains forbidden as are any broadcasts deemed to be threats to national security. The reforms offer no attempts at a solution to the Kurdish question.

  Similarly, the reforms fail to address the issues raised in KHRP's attached report of November 2000.[3] Of the Recommendations listed in the report, only the very first—that Turkey "establish a working group of legal and constitutional experts to undertake the revision and amendment of the Constitution and laws of Turkey to ensure full compliance with EU criteria" was implemented, and that only partially. No group of independent experts was appointed for this purpose, there was no consultation process that included the bar association, human rights organisations or other civil society groups.

  As to the failure of Turkey to take serious steps to address its human rights problems, the facts speak for themselves. The attached "Data on the violations of human rights in Turkey in 2001" documented by the Turkish human rights organisation IHD demonstrate the serious problems that remain. Two aspects stand out in particular. One is the high numbers of complaints of torture and inhuman treatment, which has also been raised as a matter of serious concern by Amnesty International. The second is the harassment and intimidation of political parties, particularly the pro-Kurdish HADEP (People's Democracy Party), including two cases of disappearance. KHRP believes it is important that NATO membership and international measures to combat terrorism in the wake of 11 September do not become a justification for overlooking human rights violations in Turkey.

  In sum the evidence of the situation in Turkey, as presented in the attached report[4], remains valid. KHRP puts it forward for the consideration of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and asks that this evidence, together with our Recommendations, serve as guidance to the Committee in determining the UK's own foreign policy in relation to Turkey.




  Unpunished killings: 124

  Balance from explosions of mines: 16 deaths, 21 injured

  Extra-judicial killings and killings as a result of refusals to stop at road blocks: 37

  Deaths in conflict: 86

  Operations against the civil population: 42 deaths, 68 injured

  Arrested people who have "disappeared": 4

  Cases of torture and known and/or denounced inhuman treatment: 832

  People arrested for political reasons: 55,389

  People imprisoned for political reasons: 3,224

  People injured as a result of attacks against demonstrations: 269

  People killed or injured as a result of security forces' attacks: 17 deaths and 21 injured

  People forced, through threats, to collaborate with security forces: 44

  Cases of physical damage caused by assaults of the security forces: 129

  Outcomes of bombings or burning of human settlements: 64 settlements, 11 deaths, 21 injured

  Villages and settlements forcibly evacuated: 2


  Prisoners injured or subjected to sexual violence during attacks of the security forces: 55

  Prisoners who have been denied medical treatment: 275

  Prisoners who have died as a result of the hunger strike: 40

  Prisoners who have died as a result of setting themselves on fire: 6

  Prisoners who have died as a result of the refusal to provide them with medical treatment: 2

  Other prisoners who have died as a result of alleged suicide: 7


  Illegal sackings for political or economic reasons: 58,669

  Workers forcibly transferred to other workplaces, suspended, dislocated and subjected to administrative sanctions: 1,944

  Judicial appeals against illegal measures: 9,757

  Accidents at work: 45 deaths, 41 injured


  Closures of associations, branches or political parties, cultural centres and publications: 114

  Raids on associations, branches of political parties, cultural centres and publications: 196

  Publications seized and/or closed down: 245

  Banned initiatives or activities: 38

  Public officials removed of subjected to restrictions for expressing their opinions: 162

  Sentences demanded for crimes of opinion:1,921 cases, 3,758 years and two months of imprisonment

  Sentences imposed for crimes of opinion: 66 cases, 132 years and six months of imprisonment, fines of 42,500,000,000 Turkish lire

  "Prisoners of conscience" imprisoned for crimes of opinion: 93

  Halting of television transmissions (from 1 day to 180 days): in total 94 months (2,836 days)

  Theatrical spectacles and films banned: 6

  Political parties banned: 1 (Virtue party)

  Provincial and district Presidents of HADEP (political party) arrested: 30

  Provincial and district Presidents of HADEP imprisoned: 9

  Provincial, district and city organisers of HADEP arrested: 182

  Provincial, district and city organisers of HADEP imprisoned: 93

  Members of HADEP arrested: 1,303

  Members of HADEP imprisoned: 28

  Provincial organisers of HADEP disappeared: 2

  Provincial organisers of HADEP attacked: 1

  Provincial organisers of HADEP threatened: 3

  Elected HADEP Mayors removed from office: 2

  Members of SIP (political party) arrested because of their activities: 50

  Members and organisers of EMEP arrested because of their activities: 40


  (a)  A penal proceeding, based on article number 8 of the anti-terror law, was begun against the President of the Party of Democracy and Peace, its provincial headquarters in Diyarbakir was searched and a Conference on the Turkish Constitution was banned.

  (b)  Another political party is about to be banned only because of the presence of the word "Communist" in its name.


  According to official statistics in the year 2001 alone, 12,800 Turkish citizens have been forced to escape abroad.


  1.  KHRP urges the UK Government to insist on strict adherence to short and medium term criteria for Turkey's accession that have been laid down by the EU. However it is not enough to lay down standards; EU member states must work to put in place an effective mechanism for measuring the implementation of the standards. In this regard, KHRP urges the UK Government to have regard to its Recommendations addressed to Turkey in its report "Turkey in Europe: Opportunity for Change?" which was submitted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in July 2000 and is submitted to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee herewith. KHRP recommends that the Select Committee asks the Government to explain how it is intended that Turkey's implementation of the standards set by the EU be measured.

  2.  The UK should work to secure Turkey's full compliance with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. In light of Committee of Ministers resolution DH (99) 434 of 1999 on actions of the security forces in Turkey, and resolution ResDH (2001) (106) of 2001 on violations of freedom of expression in Turkey, both of which make clear that Turkey has not taken measures to put an end to the violations found by the Court in a series of judgments condemning Turkey, KHRP recommends that the UK Government, under the auspices of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, uses its best endeavours to ensure enforcement of these judgments.

  3.  Human rights standards in the UK's trade and investment in Turkey:

  (a)  When considering whether to grant export credit guarantees to UK companies for projects in Turkey, and permits for sales of weapons and other equipment to Turkey, the UK Government must view considerations of human rights and the environment as central. KHRP recommends that the Committee press the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to work for binding standards relating to human rights and the environment that would apply to the granting of export credit guarantees.

  (b)  It recently emerged that Balfour Beatty, which later said it could not possibly satisfy the Government's conditions for the granting of an export credit guarantee given the current political context in Southeast Turkey, and that it would never have become involved in the Ilisu Dam project had it been aware of the problems, had met early on with the Government and with the British Embassy in Ankara, which had encouraged the company to proceed and informed the company that the Government had declared Turkey to be a preferred trading partner. This is cause for concern, since the FCO is fully informed about the political sensitivities and instability in the Southeast of Turkey. KHRP urges the Committee to ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reveal what advice has been given to potential investors in Turkey regarding projects in Southeast Turkey.

  4.  In the context of the pre-accession negotiations, KHRP urges the UK Government to encourage Turkey to establish the social, legal and political conditions necessary for a truly open civil society, and to participate in democratic dialogue with the Kurds with a view to achieving a peaceful political solution to the Kurdish question.

Kurdish Human Rights Project

January 2002

2   Not printed. Back

3   "Turkey in Eurpe: Opportunity for Change?" KHRP, November-2000. Not printed. Back

4   Ibid. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 30 April 2002