Amnesty International – Turkey – Freedom of Expression Report

Freedom of expression is one of the rights practiced by most of the people. This had paved way of letting out your sentiments towards hot issues and gives you the chance of expressing yourself. But you cannot hide the fact that this specific right is being violated by some individuals and depriving from you your right.

This is simply becoming the culprit why there is a continuous fight between the government and its people. And sometimes, this is the reason of other emerging struggles and problems. Freedom of expression is bountiful in almost of the countries around the world but for some, it remained restricted even though there are existing legislative reforms regarding this right. There are situations wherein the police had already used excessive force in breaking up those peaceful demonstrations. Civilian lives were taken because of bomb attacks. Improper investigations as well as prosecutions emerged to state officials who have allegedly abused human rights and unfair trials persisted about the legislation of anti- terrorism. No visible progression when it comes to recognizing the rights of outlawing the grounds of discrimination on gender identity and sexual orientation.

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Due to these very bothering problems, thousands of refugees coming from Syria are seeking shelter and living in Turkey. The country of Turkey had taken actions and had adopted legal protections. These will be used in combating against the different violations including violations against the rights of the women but there are procedures which are not properly implemented.

There are restrictions made on freedom of expression most especially in media and in the civil society but then showing little progression. Because of this, contradicting non- violent opinions on criminal prosecutions emerged including political issues which are very controversial as well as frequently giving of opinions towards criticism to public officials and other institutions. And this is more favouring to the part of those who want to limit the power of freedom of expression.

The Third Judicial Package is a series of several reforms wherein it was passed by the Parliament on July to amend or abolish some of the laws which are limiting the scope of freedom of expression. But this said reform did not actually amend those offenses limiting the freedom of expression including the legislation towards anti- terrorism and seems to be not working how it should be.

The restrictions of freedom of expression had led to the following imprisonment of some individuals:

The dreadful happenings include the imprisonment of Halil Savda in February, a defender of human rights because of the reason of “alienating the public from military service”. In October, the trial of Fazil Say, a pianist began because of insulting some of the religious values publicly and had mocked religious individuals. Journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were released in March for the reason of committing a said crime with a terrorist organization. Trials involving the members of the Kurdistan Communities Union linked with PKK, preceded, as well as prosecution process for 193 people.

The Amnesty International Turkey – Freedom of Expression Report had shown how important it is to have the right of freedom of expression and shows if it is truly essential of putting restrictions regarding this right.

Amnesty International History

The Amnesty International is a human rights focused non-governmental organization consisting of more than three million members as well as supporters all throughout the world. The main objective of this organization is to make researches on what particular actions can prevent abusive acts towards human rights and to help those individuals who were been violated to seek for justice.

The Amnesty International was originally founded on July 1961 in London and the founder was Peter Benenson, an English labour lawyer. On November 19, 1960, Benenson had read that there were two Portuguese students from the area of Coimbra were had been sentenced with an imprisonment of seven years in Portugal and the reason was “having drunk a toast to liberty” this had served as the culprit of why he started the organization. During this time, Portugal was under the rulings of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, wherein the government was said to be authoritarian and is known for its being anti- communist. For him to be able to show his reaction towards the situation, he had wrote a newspaper article entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners.”

He had worked with several important people including Eric Baker in which Benenson described him as a partner for the project. Baker was an active member of the Religious Society of Friends. They had consulted other academics, lawyers and writers including Alec Digges who had published “The Forgotten Prisoners” of Benenson on May 28, 1961. Because of this article, it had opened the interest of the readers towards the unacceptable violations of the government and “Appeal for Amnesty 1961” was launched. This was to mobilize the opinions of the public in defence of those individuals who have been violated. The organization was officially named as the “Amnesty International” on September 30, 1962 and was simply known as “Amnesty”.

In 1970s, the significant figures leading the Amnesty International were Martin Ennals and Sean MacBride continuing the work regarding “Prisoners of Conscience”. The organization had widened its scope to fair trial and the “detention without trial” as well as to the torturing of prisoners. They have been gathering reports on torture allegations from different countries wherein it had influenced the people to put a portion of pressure towards the national government by creating a torture abolition campaign. In 1977, the organization had received their Nobel Peace Prize for the against torture campaign, followed in 1978 by the award United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.

In 1980s, the organization had continued on government criticism and its campaign against torture in defence of the “Prisoners of Conscience”. As it progresses, new issues had surfaced which includes extrajudicial killings, political killings, police transfers and disappearances. In 1990s, the members of the Amnesty International had reached 150 countries influencing of more than three million active members fighting for human rights universality. After 2000, the organization’s agenda turned to globalization challenges including social, cultural and economic rights.

In 2010s, it still continued its legacy in providing the people the human rights they deserve and is helping different countries to fight for their known rights against overpowering people. This comprises the Amnesty International history.

Amnesty International Structures

The Amnesty International is now currently present in more than 150 countries all throughout the world and its members are being organized by “sections”. These sections consist of a number of members who are imparted into groups and into professional staffs which serves as co- ordinate to the organization. Each section includes board of directors. In the year 2005, 52 sections from different countries were formed but aspiring sections are commonly called as “structures”. These structures have also the capacity to co-ordinate normal and basic activities but then it is only consisting of minimal number of members and limited staff. There are countries that don’t have any existing sections or structures; in this case, people who are interested to become part of the Amnesty International are given the chance of becoming international members.

There are two existing organizational models in the Amnesty International structures. The International Networks wherein it is promoting specific themes which are consequently having specific identity as well as the affiliated groups. This is working just like a section group but then in isolation. These organizations are being represented of what you call International Council led by an IC Chairperson. The main function of this council is to make an appointment and to hold specific internal government bodies. It also determines the movement’s direction and it convenes every two years. Each of the members of both sections and structures are given the right of appointing several representatives to sit on the Council considering their memberships size.

The International Council has the power of inviting representatives coming from the International Networks as well as other individuals to adhere in several meetings but then only those representing their structures and sections are liable to voting rights.

The IEC or the International Executive Committee is being led by an IEC chairperson. This is consisting of only eight members and an IEC Treasurer. This committee plays a very vital role in partaking decisions made by the Amnesty International. They also implement the different strategies created by the International Council as well as to ensure the compliance between the statutes of the organization.

Another is the International Secretariat or the IS. It is the one responsible in conducting the daily affairs of the organization which are basically under the International Council and the International Executive Committee. This is being run by professional staffs consisting of more than 500 members and is being led by the Secretary General. The International Secretariat is operating several of the organization’s work programmes including: International Law and Organizations, Mobilisation, Research, Campaigns as well as in Communications. Its main office was always been in London ever since the establishment of the Amnesty International in 1960s.

The structures of the Amnesty International had really made a difference in influencing other people. Because of its structures, these had paved way of helping other people who are consequently violated their human rights and are seeking for justice.

Amnesty International Objectives

The primary target of the Amnesty International is the government but then it is open on reporting issues involving other non-governmental associations and organizations as well as to private individuals. This specific organization is basically upholding and dealing with six important areas. These six areas are said to be one of the most violated and the ones that are in need of attention when it comes to human rights. The Amnesty International objectives had shown how essential it is to fight for your rights.

The first area is the rights of the women, minorities, children and the indigenous people. Next is the abolition of torture most especially to prisoners as well as the abolition of giving death penalties. This also includes rights of the refugees, rights of the “prisoners of conscience” and the protection of the human dignity.

Some of the specific aims of the Amnesty International include the following:

  • Abolish life sentence most especially death penalty, disappearances and put an end on extra judicial killings. They want to ensure that though prisoners had committed a crime, they should still be given the chance of meeting the international standards of human rights and to provide fair trials. Torturing should be stopped and the providing of ill- treatments as well as unlawful killings. Give the asylum seekers and refugees their rights.
  • When it comes to children, free education should be supplied to them and there should be decriminalisation of abortion. Stop the promotion of child soldiers and to fight against impunity regarding judicial systems.
  • “Prisoners of Conscience” should be freed, protect the defenders of human rights as well as to promote social, cultural and economic rights for those considered marginalised communities. Religious tolerance promotion, protecting the rights of the LGBT community and to protect the human dignity.

For the above mentioned aims to be achieved by the Amnesty International, several techniques were developed to disseminate the information to the public and to uplift the mobilisation of the public opinion. Because the organization know for a fact that publicising accurate and impartial reports will become its strengths. The Amnesty International reports have undergone several researches. They had interviewed victims, observed trials, media monitoring and even collaborating with human rights activists. All of these are issued through press releases as well as publicising it on websites and newspapers.

The campaign towards mobilisation of public opinion is being deployed through several techniques including direct appeals, publicity and media work and public demonstrations. Fund-raising is often times integrated. Whenever there are situations in need of immediate attention, the organization calls for networks on crisis response or action networks.

The Amnesty International is truly a powerful medium in impacting and awakening the people’s interests towards issues talking about human rights. Because of this, individuals are becoming more informed on what their rights are and how they will fight for it. Another, it plays a very vital role in giving the people the justice they have been seeking and to put a certain pressure on those people who continuously violating human rights.