Civil society organizations in Turkey, still under intense scrutiny following a botched coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, complain their freedom to draw attention to human rights abuses has been further curtailed by government limits on public meetings and activities to combat the dissemination of COVID-19.
Turkey’s civil society is in DANGER
Four days after reporting the first reported case of the novel coronavirus, Turkey suspended all public activities on March 15, and eventually halted all travel between the main cities of the country, placing limits on movement on anyone under the age of 20 or over 65.
Non-governmental organizations, like most of the rest of society, have shifted almost all internet activity; while some groups argue this has resulted in increased efficiency. Others argue travel and oversight constraints by state agencies have hindered their work.
With nearly 40 branches throughout the world, Human Rights Association, IHD, General Secretary Osman Isci said to BIRN: “We had to postpone all of our meetings, inter-city travel and press conferences that were vital to our work and to spread recognition of human rights abuses across the world.”
Human Rights Absence
Turkey ‘s top Muslim cleric, Ali Erbas, announced that Islam opposes homosexuality as it “brings disease”. Also insinuating that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for same sex relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately backed Erbas. He said that any attack on the cleric led to a “assault on the state and Islam,” following a media outrage from civil society groups.
The bigotry of the Turkish government is a long-standing issue. But its scapegoating of LGBTI citizens during the pandemic is obvious as an effort. To instigate a civil war and deflect criticism from Erdogan’s mismanagement of the coronavirus epidemic. Which has led to both public health and economic crises. Turkey had registered 137,000 COVID-19 cases as of May 9 – the ninth highest in the world. And there is clear evidence of intentional under-reporting. While, in the year to date, the currency of the world has plummeted 20 per cent.