Protest in front of ECtHR to draw attention to rights violations in Turkey, court’s inaction

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Hundreds of victims of a purge carried out by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in 2016 as well as activists and EU parliamentarians are expected to gather in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg on Friday to protest rights violations in Turkey and ask the ECtHR to take swift action against them.

The ECtHR is accused by the victims of human rights violations in Turkey that culminated after a failed coup in 2016, when the government launched a crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, of not expeditiously processing applications from the victims or of issuing rulings in favor of the Turkish government in some cases.

Friday’s protest is being organized by the Peaceful Actions Platform, an umbrella organization consisting of 24 civil society groups. The protest will be aired live by MC EU TV and the Peaceful Actions Platform YouTube channel.

Yasemin Aydın, coordinator of the platform, told Bold Medya in an interview that the ECtHR is turning a blind eye to the human rights violations taking place in Turkey under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and just idly watching the violations happening every day.

Aydın accused the ECtHR of remaining silent regarding the rights violations faced by followers of the Gülen movement, in particular, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup on July, 15 2016.

The Gülen movement, inspired by the views of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is accused by the Turkish government and Erdoğan of masterminding the coup attempt and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

“The number of victims has reached into the hundreds of thousands. Such rights violations are regarded as crimes against humanity by United Nations working groups. But the ECtHR is silent,” Aydın said, adding that the goal of the protest is to ask the rights court the reason for its silence.

Some European parliamentarians such as Rampi Roberto (Italy) and Thorhildur Sunna Aevarsdottir (Iceland), both members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will also extend their support to the protestors and will deliver speeches. Members of the European Parliament Marie Arena (Belgium), Costas Mavrides (Greece) and Pierrette Herzberger Fofona (Germany), PACE members Catarina Rocha Ferreria (Portugal), Hannah Bardell (UK), former Turkish soccer player Hakan Şükür and former NBA player Enes Kanter will take part in the protest via video messages.

Şükür and Kanter, who are both outside Turkey, are among the victims of the crackdown on the Gülen movement due to their affiliation with the group and face prison sentences on bogus terrorism charges.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

Some of these people had to take illegal and risky journeys in dinghies to Greece because their passports had been revoked by the government.

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