Human rights violations in Turkey prevailed during pandemic in 2020 - DW

Turkey has gone through another year of unfair trials, lengthy detentions, mistreatment in prisons and allegations of torture as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday.

DW compiled a list of developments in 2020 which led to human rights violations in Turkey, where authorities continued to detain and convict journalists, opposition politicians, activists and human rights defenders deemed political opponents without compelling evidence of criminal activity.

Prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who was first detained on Oct. 18, 2017, spent another year in prison without being convicted of a crime. He was acquitted and released earlier this year, only to be arrested on a separate charge shortly after.

Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), still remains in prison despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling in November 2018 to release him.

Mustafa Koçak, who received life sentence for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, carried out a hunger strike demanding a fair trial. On April 24, he died on the 297th day. In similarly motivated hunger strikes, Helin Bölek, a member of left-wing music band Grup Yorum, died on April 3 after 288 days, while the group's guitarist İbrahim Gökçek died on May 7 after 323 days.

Journalists Adnan Bilen and Cemil Uğur from the Mesopotamia Agency and Jinnews’ Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala were arrested on Oct. 9 after breaking a story about two villagers, Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban, who were thrown out of a hovering military helicopter after being detained during an operation carried out by Turkish soldiers in the Van province.

This week, a Turkish court sentenced exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar to more than 18 years in prison for securing confidential information for espionage and more than eight years for aiding a terrorist group.

Despite the government's zero tolerance to torture policy, reliable reports revealed complaints regarding torture and other forms of ill treatment throughout the year, Director at Amnesty International Turkey Ece Ünver said, according to DW. She said calls for rapid, effective and independent investigation into these complaints that have remained unanswered.