Turkey, Politics, World, Analysis

OPINION - Amnesty International's priority suffering of coup plotters

OPINION - Amnesty International's priority suffering of coup plotters


By Busra Akin Dincer


On the night of July 15, 2016, Turkey faced an unusual coup attempt never before experienced in the political history of the world. How the coup attempt played out as well as the people's resistance to it have generated a scene that will continue to be discussed and written about for many years to come.

In order to shed full light on this process, human rights violations need to be defined accurately and comprehensively. That's why, with a journalistic reflex, we have begun impatiently awaiting the reports to be issued by human rights organizations in the aftermath of the coup attempt. That night, in Turkey - a country with a most central location in the world and which has a well-established democratic tradition - civilians were shot by pro-coup soldiers, crushed under tanks and sprayed with bullets from helicopters.

Undoubtedly, those who perpetrated these heinous acts cannot have been members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which is loyal to the founding principles of the Turkish Republic as the organization in charge of ensuring the country's unity and solidarity and guarding democracy. This brutal attempt - as frequently remarked in government statements - was undertaken by "traitors hiding in military outfit" and this savagery resulted in extremely painful losses.

At this point, human rights organizations are normally supposed to undertake the task of presenting to the world, in an accurate and reliable manner, the suffering of the victims and the struggle put up by the civilian population, risking their lives. Turkish public rightfully anticipated that human rights organizations would surely be issuing reports, maintaining that military coups were totally unacceptable and that the most fundamental rights of 80 million people were violated by the putschists. However, no such process has so far been witnessed on the part of these organizations regarding the coup attempt that took place in Turkey. On the contrary, we have encountered "human rights reviews" that do not go beyond defending the rights of the criminals instead of voicing the grievances of innocent people.

London-based Amnesty International, one of the leading human rights organizations in the world, published its first assessment of the coup attempt on its website on June 18. The review, published with the heading, "Turkey: Human rights in grave danger following coup attempt and subsequent crackdown", had apparently been prepared in inexplicable haste. When one reads these assessments, it is clear that everything, from the arrests in the aftermath of the coup attempt to the discussions on bringing back the capital punishment, is being discussed. The most important point, however, has been omitted: the civilians who lost their lives during the events and the violations of rights they suffered. They were only mentioned in passing in one single sentence, but even there, the sentence ends in the following manner: “Those killed include 24 people described by authorities as ‘coup plotters’, some of whom were reportedly lynched while unarmed and trying to surrender."

The fact that they wrote "coup plotters" in quotation marks shows that they do not take it very seriously or that they find the coup attempt questionable in nature. They focused on how 24 coup plotters were "lynched" rather than the fact that those killed included two women, a 15-year-old teenager, or that unarmed civilians innocently protesting against the attempt on the Bosphorus Bridge were massacred.

Amnesty International ran two more articles on its website on July 21 and 24. One of them is entitled "Turkey: State of emergency must not roll back human rights" and the other "Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations." Again, the hastily tossed out assessment, claimed to be based on the views of independent observers, states that Amnesty International has reached "substantial evidence" that the detainees are being tortured. Noting that they spoke to the lawyers and doctors of the detainees and one of the guards, Amnesty International are, in their own right, trying to expose the treatment of the detainees in Turkey in a detailed manner. The assessment, for instance, says the following: “Despite chilling images and videos of torture that have been widely broadcast across the country, the government has remained conspicuously silent on the abuse. Failing to condemn ill-treatment or torture in these circumstances is tantamount to condoning it."

Let alone this organization's silence on how the coup plotters massacred innocent, peaceful civilians, its effort to prepare a "credible" report in such a short time that the detainees are being tortured is what should actually be questioned. However, instead of defending the civilians whose rights were violated, Amnesty International's going beyond its objectives by inquiring after the condition of the coup plotters and accusing Turkish people and government of torturing them is absolutely unacceptable.

These assessments do not mean anything to us, because, in publishing reports that go against its foundational objectives and values, Amnesty International must answer these questions in the first place: Were the lives of the murdered less valuable than the perpetrators that are still alive? Do the years taken away from the murdered women and young people, dreams unrealized, the pain and suffering of the families left behind not mean anything to them?

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