Human rights in Turkey: a comparative study of IHD and Mazlum-Der
Öztekin, Berna (2009) Human rights in Turkey: a comparative study of IHD and Mazlum-Der. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1276335 (Table of Contents)
The current popularity of civil society as "the icon of the global trend of democratization" and related discussions on civil society in Turkey are the starting points of this study. The civil society concept highly penetrated into political discourse in the last two decades. This has been largely due to the collapse of communist regimes in the Eastern and Central Europe in which civil society has been promoted and portrayed as the corner stone of the democratization process. Similar to the global trend, especially in the post-1980 period, civil society has been largely associated with the consolidation of democracy and related to this the lack of an autonomous civil society became the central issues of political discourse in Turkey. An important part of the increasing debates about the civil society in Turkey has been the human rights issue. The repressive attitudes of Turkish state dominated human rights movements in the pre-1980 period. In the post-1980 era with the impact of large number of prisoners of 1980 military coup and torture and violence against these prisoners, the issues related to human rights challenged Turkish state and its actions more often. Moreover, the failures of Turkey on human rights, and the reports published by several international and national organizations and media have increased the pressure on the national government. In the light of these discussions, the aim of this thesis is to have an understanding of two prominent human rights organizations, IHD (Human Rights Association) and Mazlum-Der (Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed People), which are mainly descendants of debates related to violations against Kurdish population and political Islam. The analysis of the developments of these organizations, their discourses and interest in contemporary human rights violations would enable a further discussion related to the development regarding both civil society and human rights organizations in Turkey in the post-1980 period. In addition, a brief evaluation of the civil society concept and its historical developments in political sphere provides significant tools to understand why human rights movements revitalized post-1980 period. This study provides a content analysis of two prominent human rights organizations in Turkey and their area of interests with a detailed focus on divergences and convergences between them. According to the analysis, Turkish state is indicated as the main obstacle in the issue of human rights in Turkey by IHD and Mazlum-Der. Secondly, the majority of human rights violations are related to Kurdish issue. Finally, IHD and Mazlum-Der have different approaches to human rights that differentiate them and limit their activities in some occasions. Furthermore, through identification of convergences and divergences, the data enables a further discussion about the contemporary debates on Turkish civil society, its position vis-à-vis the state mechanisms and the role of human rights organizations within these dimensions. This study is important because it provides a systematic understanding of the role of human rights organizations in dealing with human rights violations persecuted by the state and at the same time explicates on their contribution to the debate on the relation between state and civil society and whether human rights organizations focus on state or society level violations. This study also forms a preliminary work for further study on this relation and it brings in conceptual tools for further inquiry on this relation.
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