As the Unconditional Justice Movement, we stood our eight watch in front of the European Court of Human Rights on Friday, January 15th. Our watch lasted two hours with the participation of three people.
- During our watch this week, the subject we focused on was Turkey‘s Alevis, whose ” right to freedom of religion and conscience” has been violated and who has constantly been subjected to “religious discrimination”.
- Alevi citizens in Turkey, for many years, have been marginalized and been on the ragged edge. In 2009, very important steps were taken towards democratization in Turkey, and several workshop thereof were carried out with the participation of leading personalities from the assorted parts of the society, including the opinion leaders of the Alevi community. Alevis had anticipation that the rights they claimed would be realized during these workshops where all parties took part. The most important of these rights was/is the official recognition of cemevis as places of worship and the abolition of compulsory religion education. However, despite the years passed, the prospective positive steps have never been taken. Quite the contrary, the situation has worsened, and gone not just back to the year 2009 but even fallen behind the notorious 1980 regime.
- Alevis in Turkey, including but not limited to Alevi deputies in the Parliament, made lots of effort to ensure the recognition and fulfillment of their rights. Of those efforts, legislative proposals initiated regarding the legal recongition of cemevis (Alevi worship-house) should be counted. However, all of the proposals thereof were rejected by the majority in the Parliament.
- The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concluded a case that was lodged in 2010. The court, ruled that Alevis have been subjected to discrimination in the context of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Court stated that given the existence of an Alevi community with deep roots in Turkish society and history, the blanket exclusion by the Turkish government of the Alevi community from such benefits of public services as, for example, the exemption from the electricity bill, an exemption applied however to mosques, churches and synagogues, shouldn’t be considered to be proportioned to the aim pursued. With this judgment the Court ruled out the question “are cemevis places of worship?” According to the Court, recognition of cemevis as places of worship is indispensable with a democratic society maintaining the true religious pluralism while remaining neutral and impartial on the basis of objective criteria, on the respect for diversity, etc.
- Despite the clear ruling the ECtHR, the Turkish government has so far intentionally avoided the implementation of the judgment of the Court. Council of Europe, on the non-compliance by the government with the judment of the Court, demanded of the Turkish government to provide a comprehensive action plan confirming its intention to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the judgment until June 2020.
- Despite the expiry of the deadline set by the Council of Europe, there is no development on the Turkish side, and the uncertainty about what the Council of Europe may do is still looming.
- While the judicial decisions have been wholy ignored and disregarded by the Turkish authorities, including but not limited to the central government, the new mayors of Istanbul and Izmir Metropolitan Municipalities proposed an action to mark the cemevis as faith centers in the cities‘ urban plans, that, however, rejected (in Istanbul) by votes of the members of the ruling party-AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party-MHP, the two holding the majority in Istanbul Municipal Assembly.
As the Unconditional Justice Movement, we declare that a government which doesn’t treat all its citizens equal -with respect especially to the exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion- and doesn’t comply with the decisions concluded thereof by independent and impartial judicial authorities is moving towards an authoritarian regime and distancing itself from human rights and universal values.