On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council conducted Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva. The institution reviewed the country’s human rights record in the last five years, assessing a wide range of violations including hate crimes and mass arrests of the post-coup crackdown, suppressing freedom of the press, sabotaging minority, and LGBT rights.
The UNHRC review would be based on the information put across in three documents – including, a detailed report compiled by human rights experts and UN officials, the data shared by national rights institutions and the defense document submitted by Turkey’s Ministry of External Affairs. UNHRC would closely observe the facts and information presented in three documents and would most likely announce its recommendations on January 30.
This year many urged the international human rights watchdog to pressurize Ankara to abide by the UN human rights resolution and take strict measures against its detaining and prosecuting of government-perceived opponents, journalists, activists, and human rights defenders.
Last UN review of Turkey’s human rights record was conducted in 2015.
This was Turkey’s third review in the last ten years. The UN agency would mainly observe human rights violations and crimes committed from 2016 to 2019, starting from the country’s failed coup attempt in 2016, followed by two years of emergency rule during which the Turkish government grew increasingly intolerant towards any form of dissent. Many believed that the country’s ruling party, AKP, which declared emergency from July 2016 till July 2018, used emergency powers as a tool to wipe out its political opponents.
As per the UN report, during the period of emergency, the government shut over 177 media outlets, arrested about 231 journalists, dismissed nearly 10,000 journalists and media workers and cancelled the press cards of at least 778 journalists.
The report added, at least 152,000 civil servants were dismissed during the emergency period, and “an additional 22,474 people had lost their jobs due to the closure of private institutions.”
The report submitted by UN officials also highlighted how the government, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adopted a flexible and vague definition of terrorism, used mostly to prosecute many journalists and civil society activists as for raising their voice against his rule. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Turkey as the worst jailer for journalists in the world for three years running until 2019.
UN experts have also accused Turkey of pursuing racist policies and executing ethnic cleansing of Khurd.
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