Turkey

Standing in silence at symbolic locations to protest government abuses and memorialize victims

Turkish protesters stood in silence at symbolic locations to draw attention to government abuses and unmet promises.

Mass demonstrations began in Istanbul in May 2013 as protests aimed at halting government plans to develop a popular urban park grew into a broader social movement to protest increasingly authoritarian policies and the violent response to peaceful demonstrations.

The Human Rights Education Program for Women in Turkey

Women participating in the human rights education programWomen for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR)-New Ways in Turkey gained the support and use of government resources for furthering human rights education of women at the local level. WWHR-New Ways developed a highly successful human rights education curriculum for women.  They developed a partnership with government run, local level community centers, these community centers offered not only professional social workers who could be trained by WWHR-New Ways in facilitating the human rights education curriculum, but also a safe and accessible place for women to learn about their rights.

Using government resources to institute women's human rights education

The Women for Women’s Rights Project (WWHR) –New Ways in Turkey gained access to institutional and financial support from the government to implement more extensive human rights education for women within community service centers. The program has been implemented in 30 Turkish provinces, in over 45 community centers, and has reached more than 4,000 women.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating a single mass expression of protest based on a simple activity that citizens can safely carry out in their own homes

The Campaign of Darkness for Light mobilized 30 million people in Turkey to flick their lights on and off as a public demonstration against government corruption. Corruption had been an open secret and yet the public felt apathetic and powerless to end it. With many citizens afraid to participate in political action, organizations needed a tactic of low personal risk that would help overcome the sense of isolation that comes with fear. The Campaign gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take — simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening — to show their displeasure with the lack of concerted action against corruption.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Providing free legal services to victims of police torture

Founded by a group of 4-5 attorneys, the project initially included 45 attorneys willing to prosecute torturers. The group has grown to include 234 people providing direct or support services for human rights cases.

In the year and a half since the project's implantation, 304 cases had been brought to the Association. They have developed a reputation among the police stations which likely has a strong preventative effect. The project has also heightened judges' awareness of the problem of police torture.



Disciplining of health care professionals reinforces ethical standards

The Turkish Medical Association held a series of meetings to design a human rights curriculum for all medical schools in the country.  The curriculum would cover roles and responsibilities of health care professionals, as well as targeted practical training for issues relevant in the country.  The TMA also hosted a series of training conferences for practicing forensic physicians.  In addition to imparting forensic skills on identifying torture, they also reinforced the ethical and legal obligations these professionals had to victims.

 

Using videotaped prosecution of police officers for human rights violations as an educational tool

The Turkish Police Academy uses videotaped prosecution of policemen for human rights violations to teach police academy candidates about the consequences of violating human rights.  This tactic was used as part of a larger strategy in police academy human rights education for police candidates to incorporate the understanding, value and use of investigation and interrogation procedures that do not violate the human rights of the accused and prevent abuse of power.

A Call to End Corruption: One Minute of Darkness for Constant Light

An advertisement for a protest toolGovernment corruption in Turkey had been an open secret. Yet, the public felt apathetic about their ability to change the situation. The Campaign of Darkness for Light gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take – simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening – and thus show their displeasure with the system. Such a simple action – a flick of the switch – and yet when people saw that their neighbors had turned off their lights, too, they felt the power of their collective voices.  30 million people turned off and on their lights to demand that the government act against corruption, soon they began to invent their own ways to speak out by gathering on the streets, marching and banging pots and pans.

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