UN High Commissioner urges Turkey to stop attacks on human rights

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated that institutions and individuals interested in the Kurdish issue are targeted by the government.

United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council sessions started in Geneva, Switzerland. The sessions will continue until September 29, and Human Rights Council Term President Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli gave the opening speech and spoke about the program. Martelli pointed out the state of human rights throughout the world and urged states to cooperate more in developing human rights.


Afterwards United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein read the annual human rights report. Al Hussein started his speech with the attacks in the US on September 9, 2001 and said: “Terrorists can attack us. States can take precautions against this, but it shouldn’t become a tool for authoritarianism or oppression.”


Al Hussein submitted a report on the human rights violations in various countries like Syria, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Venezuela, the US, Turkey and the EU and stated that in the Syrian conflict, just in 2017, thousands of civilians lost their lives in aerial or ground attacks and children made up a significant portion of these deaths.


Al Hussein’s speech focused on Turkey extensively. Al Hussein said Turkey participated actively to the Human Rights Council efforts and did have attempts to develop human rights, but that the country should show the same awareness to within its borders.

Al Hussein said freedoms of thought and expression are under serious pressure and mentioned the large numbers of journalists, academics, lawyers, rights defenders and NGO representatives in custody and under arrest. Al Hussein also stated that people of different faiths and individuals and institutions working on the Kurdish issue are subjected to attacks and are targeted, and added that most recently, 10 human rights defenders working with the Amnesty International had been arrested under allegations of carrying out activities “in the name of an armed terror group”. Al Hussein announced that his bureau will be publishing a very extensive report on Turkey soon.

Hussein continued: “People who are interested in the Kurdish issue, people within left wing politics or people suspected of being close to these groups are targeted by the state.”


Al Hussein urged the Turkish government to abandon the attacks on human rights at once and announced that the Geneva-based office founded under his office to investigate human rights violations in Turkey will be publishing an urgent report in the coming days to draw attention to the human rights violations due to the State of Emergency.


Al Hussein pointed out how a small town in Greece took in refugees and the practices they enacted. “It is a good example of how much better refugees could be received if that was the will,” said Al Hussein and criticized the refugee policies of European countries.

The 36th UN Human Rights Sessions started in the morning and will continue until September 29 with discussions on rights violations in various countries.

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