Human Rights in Turkey

Human Rights in Turkey

Human Rights in Turkey

Human Rights in Turkey

Synopsis

Turkey's mixed human rights record has been highly politicized in the debate surrounding the country's probable ascendance to membership in the European Union. Beginning with the foundation of a secular republic in 1923, and continuing with founding membership in the United Nations and participation in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Turkey made significant commitments to the advancement of human rights. However, its authoritarian tradition, periods of military rule, increasing social inequality, and economic crises have led to policies that undermine human rights. While legislative reforms and civil social activism since the 1980s have contributed greatly to the advancement of human rights, recent progress is threatened by the rise of nationalism, persistent gender inequality, and economic hardship.

In Human Rights in Turkey, twenty-one Turkish and international scholars from various disciplines examine human rights policies and conditions since the 1920s, at the intersection of domestic and international politics, as they relate to all spheres of life in Turkey. A wide range of rights, such as freedom of the press and religion, minority, women's, and workers' rights, and the right to education, are examined in the context of the history and current conditions of the Republic of Turkey.

In light of the events of September 11, 2001, and subsequent developments in the Middle East, recent proposals about modeling other Muslim countries after Turkey add urgency to an in-depth study of Turkish politics and the causal links with human rights. The scholarship presented in Human Rights in Turkey holds significant implications for the study of human rights in the Middle East and around the globe.

Excerpt

Richard Falk

Few would doubt that there has been great progress in recent years with respect to the protection of human rights in Turkey. Even fewer would question the contention that serious problems pertaining to human rights remain part of the Turkish political landscape. Both observations lend a particular importance to a book that seeks to survey this landscape to take note of progress and of obstacles to further progress.

Beyond this, the future of Turkey, its relationship to constitutional democracy overall, is bound up with two complex external relationships: with the European Union (EU) and the road to possible membership for Turkey in a decade or so; and with the United States as Turkey’s longtime principal strategic partner with a variety of implications for the future of the Middle East as a region caught between the contradictory currents of Islamic militancy and American imperial geopolitics. the way these relationships unfold in the coming years is likely to affect decisively the extent to which the impressive human rights momentum of recent years in Turkey is sustained, accelerated, halted, and conceivably even reversed.

In the lead-up to the Iraq War early in 2003, it came as a great surprise to the U.S. government when the Turkish legislature refused to authorize the deployment of American troops on Turkish soil for the purpose of invading Iraq from the north. It was an unexpected and unprecedented Turkish show of governmental independence in the setting of national security policy. Such a Turkish posture had never been a feature of the bilateral relations between these two countries during the course of the entire Cold War. Months later in the same year, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, while visiting Turkey chided the Turkish military leadership on CNN-Türk for failing to find some way to circumvent this parliamentary decision so adverse to the U.S. policy. the fact that the Turkish decision to refuse the deployment of American troops had the backing of more than 90 percent of the Turkish public seemed . . .

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