TIHV publishes report on rights violations in the earthquake zone

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey has published a report on rights violations in Turkey following the 6 February earthquake.

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) has published a report on rights violations in the earthquake region since 6 February. The 28-page report covers the period up to 27 February and includes the issues of "violations of the right to life, personal security, prisons, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of assembly and demonstration, and freedom of association and solidarity".

According to the report, which was prepared on the basis of media reports and statements by experts and professional associations as well as other human rights organisations, the incidents "show in a worrying way that the legal perspective has been completely abandoned in order to make the truth invisible".

TIHV points out that in the eleven provinces affected by the earthquake in Turkey, the infrastructure has collapsed: public buildings, hospitals, communication systems, power lines, roads and railway lines as well as airports have been rendered unusable and natural habitats destroyed. According to TIHV, the main factor in the scale of the natural disaster was "the failure of the authorities to meet the scientific requirements of earthquake preparedness, despite all the warnings and criticisms from experts, scientific circles and professional and non-governmental organisations".

The report cites "serious errors, negligence, misconduct, and coordination and planning deficiencies before and after the earthquakes". In addition, TIHV refers to a report by the Turkish Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) and the Chamber of Civil Engineers (IMO) of 14 February. In this report, it was explained in a comprehensible way how an earthquake can become a major catastrophe by human hand.

The TIHV highlights the fact that the emergency response and search and rescue operations after the earthquake were not carried out properly and that there was disorganisation, delays, lack of coordination and planning. In this regard, it was found that "insufficient personnel and equipment were deployed in the regions. Public facilities could not be used properly and there was clearly a ‘crisis management crisis'."

In this context, the Human Rights Foundation also comments on the statements of President Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Adıyaman on 27 February. Erdogan had stated in the heavily damaged province that: "Unfortunately, we could not work as effectively as we would have liked in the first days in Adıyaman. We could not arrive on the first day due to the weather and road conditions. For that, I apologise for the first few days." TIHV sees this as an "admission of a crisis management crisis with high costs".

The executive summary of the report lists the following violations:

- At least one person died in custody due to torture and ill-treatment.

- Three detainees died in prisons as a result of the intervention of law enforcement officials.

- In nine separate cases, 17 people were tortured and ill-treated, and one person died.

- The identity of 82 of the 1902 unaccompanied children could not be established.

- Security forces and civilians intervened against 22 journalists reporting from the earthquake zone. One journalist was injured, four journalists were detained and two journalists were arrested for posting on social media. One foreign journalist was not allowed to enter the country.

- 575 people were prosecuted for their posts on social media. 141 people were detained, 27 people were arrested.

- The Turkish regulatory authority responsible for radio, television and the internet, RTÜK, imposed fines on the Halk TV, Tele 1 and FOX TV channels for their coverage of the earthquake and the search and rescue operations.

- 246 people protesting against the decision to introduce distance learning at universities after the earthquake were detained under torture and ill-treatment.

- In at least 20 cases, citizens, civil society organisations, political parties and communities were prevented from collecting relief supplies for the earthquake victims. 16 people were detained and six people were arbitrarily detained. One person was subjected to physical violence and one person was fined.

- One person was injured in an armed attack on an aid organisation.

- In at least seven cases, relief goods were confiscated by the disaster management agency AFAD, district offices and law enforcement agencies.

-100 trucks sent by the Future Party (Gelecek Partisi) as well as 1500 tents, eight trucks and two vans with relief goods, 30 containers and 120 generators sent by the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were confiscated.