The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) Freedom of Belief Initiative outlines in this report, covering the period from July 2013 to June 2014, that Turkey needs to take comprehensive steps in order to bring legislation and practice in line with international human rights law.
Annual roundtable event on the right to freedom of religion or belief was organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Istanbul on November 11, 2014.
Addressing Turkey’s Alevi communities in his speech at a Hacı Bektaş Veli Ashura event over the weekend, the PM Davutoğlu called for unity and vowed to tackle the problems faced by Alevis.
The initiative will concern not only the Alevi community with which the government has long been in conflict, but also other minorities who are reluctant to be attached to the Directorate of Religious Affairs. The establishment of a "regulative and controlling council," which will embrace every section of society refusing to be linked to the ministry, is expected to be part of the reforms that will be introduced by the government.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fined Turkey 57,650 euros for prosecuting and convicting four Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused compulsory military service, according to a statement from the Court on June 3.
Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled yesterday that rights of a female lawyer wearing headscarf were violated when she was not allowed into a trial. A female lawyer filed a case after she was barred from a trial because of her headscarf.
The right to acquire legal personality remains a key right for belief communities in Turkey. Its recognition will certainly contribute to Turkey's democratisation.
Turkey's Alevi community was the most targeted community in articles or news items that are considered to be hate speech between September and December of 2013, according to a recent report from the Hrant Dink Foundation released on Thursday.
The refusal to recognize the cemevi [Alevi houses of worship] as a place of worship remains a serious infringement on the right to freedom of religion or belief and the identity of the Alevi, who constitute Turkey’s largest religious minority. While the right to establish places of worship is a fundamental human right, which Turkey has undertaken to protect in accordance with international human rights law, the current policies and decisions pertaining to cemevis are framed with reference to theological legitimacy, national unity and security concerns. As Turkey finds its way back to reform processes the Norwegian Helsinki Committee: Freedom of Belief Initiative would like to contribute to the public discussion from a human rights perspective.
Turkey is not a theocratic or confessional state. It is a secular state with significant human rights commitments in the sphere of freedom of religion or belief. However, Turkey is struggling with protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief fully for all, to comply with the principle of state neutrality and to ensure pluralism, Mine Yıldırım, Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Turkey, said at a seminar on religion and state in Turkey arranged by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on 12 March 2014.