Defending others, liberating themselves: WHRD’s experiences in Turkey
The environment, in which human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey operate, seriously deteriorated, the space for civil society in Turkey has dramatically narrowed, and many crucial safeguards protecting defenders have been removed over the last decade. HRDs face various forms of reprisal, discrimination, and attacks, including threats, intimidation, stigmatization, judicial harassment, and prolonged arbitrary detention. The rise of authoritarianism and the increasing threat targeting the civic actors in Turkey, has triggered these actors to look for new methods to continue their struggle. This has led many rights advocates in Turkey to identify themselves as ‘human rights defenders’ both to struggle for their own rights to advocate and to make use of the range of options available for their protection based on the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
However, this newly emerged field for the protection of HRDs in Turkey lacks a gender perspective, which also illustrates the general lack of gender-based analysis and feminist approaches in the human rights milieu in Turkey. Although the majority of HRDs operating on the frontline are women, their work, the unique challenges they face, the gender-specific threats and attacks they experience, and the gender-specific consequences of these attacks are not recognized, documented or addressed by human rights initiatives.
Within this project, four main problems will be targeted in this project:
1) The lack of gender analysis in the field of human rights in Turkey, in particular in the newly emerged area on the protection of human rights defenders
2) The lack of recognition of the work and gendered experiences of women human rights defenders in Turkey
3) Insufficient understanding of WHRDs in Turkey regarding the UN mechanism for the protection of HRDS, as well as lack of sharing knowledge and experiences between WHRDs from other geographies
4) Lack of connection of WHRDs from Turkey with ones from other geographies, which can enable sharing experiences and lessons-learned, to strengthen their networks of solidarity
Regarding these questions, the project includes the following activities:
- Producing knowledge and documenting the experiences of WHRDs in Turkey and contributing to the lacking gender-based analysis and feminist approaches in the human rights field.
- Assess and highlight the shared experiences of WHRDs around the world and disseminate the information to a broader audience.
- Disseminate the research and publication to the human rights milieu and wider public audience in Turkey.
- Strengthening the knowledge on UN mechanism, human and women’s rights frameworks, and the relevant feminist methods and perspectives used while developing these frameworks.
- Connecting WHRDs from Turkey with WHRDs from other geographies to mutually share experiences and lessons- learned. Discuss the results of the research and the project process as a whole and create a space for an exchange among WHRDs from different countries.
This project is conducted by Hafiza Merkezi Berlin with the support of ISHR.