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Real Change Begins When the Voices of the Victims Are Amplified

Today, December 10th, is World Human Rights Day. In our world where genocides and crimes against humanity occur, it’s a day to reflect on the state of human rights, acknowledge ongoing challenges, and renew our commitment to the struggle for and protection of human rights.

While aware of the challenges, we are also conscious of the need to fight against injustices for them to end. Not just us, but almost everyone is waiting for and desiring a change towards human rights, justice, and the rule of law. At this point, it is essential to understand that real change is not a passive phenomenon. This process is often an active, transformative one that typically begins with the voices of those subjected to injustice and lawlessness. Remember, when the voices of the victims are raised, amplified, and heard, they create a strong catalyst for social transformation.

Speaking Out: Those subjected to injustice are often marginalized and silenced by the ‘architects of injustice.’ In today’s Turkey, the government’s refusal to allow even three people to gather and protest, or even a single person to voice their grievances, stems from an intention to silence the victims. They know that real change begins when victims strengthen their voice against injustice, lawlessness, and oppression. When the voices of the victims start to rise, it challenges oppressive systems and initiates a process of accountability. Therefore, they want no one to speak out, object, or raise their voice. In this sense, making noise is important from a legal struggle perspective.

Creating Awareness: The voices of the victims serve as a powerful tool for creating awareness about the issues. The enactment of the ‘Yusuf Kerim Law’ by the AKP itself is a direct result of this reality. Whether it’s discrimination, lawlessness, or human rights violations, the real stories of victims create public awareness and educate the public, leading to a collective consciousness that highlights injustices and demands solutions.

Inspiring Advocacy: An untold story is a story unexperienced! Injustices and lawlessness that are not talked about are considered non-existent. Sharing experiences inspires others to become advocates for change. Remember, when personal stories are shared publicly, they become political, encouraging individuals and organizations to actively participate in the fight against injustice.

Challenging the Status Quo: The realities that victims share by speaking out are truths that challenge the illegitimacy of the current system. Whether legal, social, or cultural, real change is possible when victims refuse to accept the status quo and demand a society that is more just and upholds the rule of law. Sharing and publicizing these experiences question existing norms, practices, and systems. Challenging the status quo will certainly meet resistance, but if change is desired, the struggle must continue persistently.

Creating Safe Spaces: Real change requires the creation of safe spaces where victims can share their stories without fear of retaliation. One of the most important aspects of this is ensuring that victims are not left alone. These spaces will foster a culture of openness that leads to a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by victimized communities, making known the injustices they endure.

Forcing Legal Reforms: The visibility and audibility of the voices of the victims play a significant role in driving legal reforms. The stories of victims and the injustices they endure should not be overlooked, as they can lead to legal changes as part of the solution.

Influencing Institutional Practices: The voices of victims also have a significant impact on changing institutional practices. As victims and their advocates highlight illegal practices, they force institutions to comply with the law, making them reluctant to engage in unlawful practices and, even unwillingly, return to legality. In this context, applications to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), like the Yalçınkaya case decision by the ECHR Grand Chamber, will be important tools in forcing institutions, especially courts, to return to the law.

Yes, in the quest for a world free of injustice and lawlessness, real change begins when the voices of the victims are not only accepted but also empowered. On World Human Rights Day, let us rededicate ourselves to eternal ideals like justice, compassion, and equality. By recognizing the need to amplify the voices of the victims and actively supporting them, we continue to contribute to a future where human rights are universally protected, and every voice is heard. Together, we can be the architects of change and ensure that the echoes of injustice are replaced by a cry for human rights for everyone.

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Nurullah Albayrak is lawyer and columnist at TR724.com

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