Turkey: FIDH supports the human rights activist Eren Keskın

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Turkish lawyer and human rights activist Eren Keskın was one of three finalists for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award, which honors individuals who show outstanding committment to promoting and protecting human rights, despite risks involved. Ms. Keskın, however, was unable to attend the ceremony for the 2019 award, presented on 13 February in Geneva, due to Turkish authorities imposing a travel ban preventing her from leaving the country.

The state of emergency imposed following the 2016 attempted coup has contributed to the degradation of the human rights situation in Turkey, and Ms. Keskın has been targeted in attempts to intimidate her. But she is far from the only human rights defender to face such measures; the Turkish government uses prosecution, arbitrary detention, threats of violence, and other intimidation measures to attempt to silence human rights defenders and curtail their work.

Ms. Keskın has defended fundamental human rights in Turkey for over thirty years, with a particular focus on Kurds, women, and the LGBTI+ community. Playing a significant role in strengthening and establishing several Turkish human rights organisations, she is currently co-president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), the first NGO founded after the 1980 military coup. Despite facing serious consequences in reaction to her work—from imprisonment to threats and attempts on her life, Ms. Keskın has not wavered in her longstanding commitment for human rights.

In a gesture of solidarity with Ms. Keskın, FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos went to Ankara on Thursday 9th of May to present her with the Martin Ennals Prize, on behalf of the Award’s jury, composed of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations.

In presenting her with the honor, he said, "Eren, while you are seen as a dangerous citizen by Turkish authorities, you are seen as a noble citizen by the human rights world. Your fight is ours. ... As human rights defenders we acknowledge when things go well, but it is when things go bad that we have to be present. It is then when you need us. We stand by you in solidarity. This our weapon."

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