Strengthening Capacity of Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and Ensure an Effective Advocacy for them in Turkey

Europe | Turkey |

Duration: February 2021 – February 2023

Country: Turkey

Communities: Ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities

What is this programme about?

The overall objective of the MARC (Minorities, Accountability, Rights, Collaboration) project is to contribute the full realisation of the rights of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities in Turkey. The specific objective of this project is to establish a strong network of minority defenders to:

  • Monitor and document violations of minority rights;
  • Produce and publish authoritative reports; and
  • Carry out linked advocacy to increase awareness of the situation of minorities in Turkey.

Why are we delivering this programme?

A comprehensive analysis of the situation of Turkey’s ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities conducted by MRG highlighted the following concerns:

  • Minority rights are largely overlooked in Turkey. The record of Turkey in terms of compliance with international human rights norms and principles had deteriorated significantly in the last 5 years. Within this process, the international community has largely overlooked the plight of minorities and the intersectional impact of conflict as well as of a deteriorating human rights and civil space context on their rights. Minority communities are both more likely to be affected by abuses of all human rights (arbitrary detention, torture, freedom of association and expression) and face specific challenges in terms of minority rights (freedom from discrimination and the ability to maintain and develop their culture and languages). This has not been recognised internationally. Turkey is one of the few countries on the European continent to have neither signed nor ratified the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. Many minorities in Turkey lack legal recognition;
  • Human rights defenders and minority-led civil society organizations face considerable security threats and concerns preventing them from working openly or freely;
  • Civil society organizations have little room for manoeuvre; and
  • There is a dire lack of platforms or networks bringing together minority groups and human rights organizations from different regions of the country to exchange information and organise joint actions or advocacy using a minority rights framework.

What are we doing?

MRG is currently conducting and/or will conduct the following activities:

  • One training on human rights monitoring and security for individuals who have been selected to participate in the minority rights network;
  • Network meetings to give an opportunity to human rights defenders from different regions of Turkey to exchange information and create more sensibility;
  • Provision of funding to protect and support human rights defenders;
  • Provision of monitoring and documentation opportunities for participants to improve the quality of collected and analysed data, adopting an ‘evidence-based approach’ in order to conduct effective advocacy for minorities;
  • Publication of bi-annual briefings based on research, analysis, and data;
  • Production of five short films exploring the situation of minorities in Turkey;
  • Production of a multimedia story highlighting the way the public understands the plight of a minority community in Turkey; and
  • Provision of national and international advocacy opportunities to programme participants.

 What is MRG’s contribution to programme participants?

  • With more than 50 years of expertise of working to secure rights for ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities around the world, MRG is aiming to provide programme participants with a platform where they could share their experience and opportunities;
  • Programme participants will be able to act more effectively by creating their own framework for minority rights;
  • Programme participants will be involved in international advocacy by accessing intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), etc.;
  • MRG will provide support for the establishment and maintenance of a network of programme participants by creating links between different existing networks in the region and the world.

Who is funding this programme?

This programme is funded by the European Union.

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Photo: Members of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Saeed was just 23 years-old and had been the sole breadwinner in his family. He was a Yazidi Kurd – a religious minority group. He was killed trying to return to his village in Iraq’s north-west region to help others who weren’t able to flee soon after it had come under attack by troops from the militant group, ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant). His widow, Khalil, is struggling to look after her three young children, the youngest just four months old, and shares one room with 16 members from her extended family in a bare, unheated building that once served as a military barracks in a desolate coal mining area in Şırnak province, south-eastern Turkey. Credit: Caroline Gluck/EU/ECHO. Published on Flickr under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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