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The Role of The International Community

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe monitored Turkey through its political, investigative, and judicial bodies.

The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey responsible for "disappearance," extrajudicial execution, death in custody, torture, and suppression of freedom of expression in twelve new decisions.

No report on the CPT's July mission to Turkey had been published as of October 2000. This mission's stated priority was to examine the current changes in the prison system. Reports on visits could only be published with the consent of the government in question, and in Turkey's case, reports on eight visits remain unpublished.

European Union

The development of an Accession Partnership Agreement proved an unparalleled opportunity for domestic and international pressure for positive change. Consequently, the European Commission and the European Parliament were in close contact with Turkish authorities and Turkish civil society and followed human rights developments with intense interest. For most of the year the E.U.'s public and private commentary mainly consisted of expressions of frustration at the loss of momentum and the sluggardly pace of reform. In April E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen told the Turkish foreign minister: "With some concern, we have unfortunately noted that not much progress has been made since Helsinki." The Turkish-European Joint Parliamentary Commission echoed this observation in its June statement.

The particular emphasis that the European Union places on minority rights in Turkey was a cause of friction. In September, the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed irritation that the European Parliament on releasing an aid package of 135 million euros (U.S. $117 million) to Turkey had proposed linking the funds to progress on Kurdish cultural rights and the economy in the southeast.

United States

The State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Turkey in 1999 fully reflected the scale of violations and official interference in political and public life. The report detailed many cases of people imprisoned for expressing their nonviolent opinions, and of torture and arbitrary killing, and accurately documented the impunity that protected the perpetrators of violations. Senior government officials publicly called for progress on human rights. In January, in response to a congressional letter, President Clinton expressed support for language rights and an interest in the Kurdish minority. Consistent with this, there was a strong reaction to the arrest of the HADEP mayors in March.

In July, the Turkish government announced that U.S. helicopter manufacturer Bell Textron won the contract for 145 attack helicopters, a sale worth an estimated four billion dollars. This class of equipment has been used to commit human rights violations in Turkey, including "disappearances" and arbitrary killings, and the sale is subject to congressional approval. A congressional debate was not expected before 2001. Rights groups protested the pending sale and pressed the U.S. government to ensure at least that effective systems be put in place to ensure end-use monitoring of this equipment.

Relevant Human Rights Watch


Human Rights and the European Union Accession Partnership, 9/00

Small Group Isolation in Turkish Prisons: An Avoidable Disaster, 5/00

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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