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HomeHeadlineCologne Hosts International Forum on Human Rights Abuses

Cologne Hosts International Forum on Human Rights Abuses

Cologne, Germany – December 12, 2023 – On Human Rights Day, the Weltanwälte Association, a coalition of legal experts, convened a symposium in Cologne to address human rights violations in Turkey, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. The event featured powerful testimonies and analyses from those directly affected by these issues.

Mehmet Reşat, the President of Weltanwälte e.V, opened the session by noting the ongoing human rights crises worldwide, 75 years post the adoption of the Human Rights Convention. He specifically cited Turkey’s escalating human rights issues over the past decade.

A stirring account came from Özge Elif Hendekçi, a lawyer who practiced in Turkey until 2017. Hendekçi recounted her five-year imprisonment with her three-month-old baby, outlining not only the systemic abuses in Turkey but also the personal toll of her incarceration. The audience was visibly moved by her description of the torture and injustices she faced, especially while incarcerated in Tokat Prison with her child.

Hendekçi also discussed the Turkish government’s strategic groundwork for the 2016 coup attempt, suggesting a premeditated plan for what she termed a ‘genocide’ against dissidents.

Jahangir Jaweed, an Afghan prosecutor, spoke about the dire situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to power. He detailed the suspension of the constitution and the systematic destruction of legal and civil liberties, including an assault on women’s rights, press freedom, and judicial integrity. The dismissal and murder of thousands of judges and prosecutors since the Taliban’s takeover were particularly emphasized.

Eritrean journalist Kibreab drew alarming parallels between his homeland and North Korea, citing widespread human rights violations. He described a culture of fear and repression, including arbitrary detentions and a complete absence of judicial or press freedoms, with the United Nations reporting over ten thousand unjustly imprisoned individuals in Eritrea.

The symposium also included an art exhibition titled ‘Freedom and Peace,’ showcasing works by exiled artists residing in Germany, which visually echoed the themes of the day’s discussions.

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