Call to end human rights abuses in Turkey

Since the attempted military coup earlier this month, the world has watched Turkey with growing concern. It seems that President Erdoğan is taking steps to establish absolute power in Turkey, with the arrests of journalists and the blocking of news outlets stifling freedom of expression, and the closure of universities and labour unions, being just some of the indicators that we are witnessing the rise of dictatorial rule.


Following the failed coup, the Turkish president has declared a three-month state of emergency and suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Erdoğan is now able to bypass parliament when creating new laws, or indeed restricting freedoms and rights, including the possibility of reinstating the death penalty.

The closure of institutions, including schools, universities, and hospitals, is justified by the government as systematic targeting of institutions believed to have links to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric currently in exile in the US who the government accuse of masterminding the attempted coup. However it appears that many listed could have had no ties to the coup attempt, and any links to the Gülen movement were entirely circumstantial. Institutions falling victim to this crackdown include the Journalists and Writers Foundation, KYM – Turkey’s largest humanitarian organisation, and the Association of Judges and Prosecutors – a secular group which works to ensure the independence of Turkey’s legal system.

Erdoğan’s Islamist ideology has long since been at odds with Turkey’s secular principles. In a speech to citizens the President stated that “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.” There are growing fears that Erdoğan’s priority is to turn the country into an Islamist state.

Over 10,000 people have been detained so far. Those suspected of links to the Gülen movement are key targets, but the list of detainees includes army personnel, police officers, judges and prosecutors, academics, and journalists. Evidence suggests that many detainees are subjected to starvation, torture, and rape. Some detainees are being held in unofficial locations, including the corridors of courthouses, many have also been denied medical treatment. Alarming images and footage of conditions within these detention centres have been broadcast across the country in a likely attempt to destroy the morale of opposition groups. The government has made no comment on the abuse shown.

Our friends at Amnesty International have launched a petition to stop the crackdown on human rights in Turkey, and ensure that all detainees have regular access to lawyers and family members. It is imperative that the Turkish authorities condemn torture and allow independent human rights monitors access to detention facilities.

You can sign the petition here.

Notes: For further information or comment please contact Gary McLelland on or 07813060713.

About HSS:
Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.


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