Year 2000 No. 84, May 16, 2000

Housing Crisis:

Housing Must Be Recognised as a Basic Human Right

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Housing Crisis: Housing Must Be Recognised as a Basic Human Right

Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey

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Housing Crisis:

Housing Must Be Recognised as a Basic Human Right

A recent report by Shelter, the national campaign for homeless people, highlighted that 700,000 households live in sub-standard accommodation, or are homeless. It also estimates that 85,000 households every year risk ending up in poor housing, bed and breakfast accommodation or on the streets.

The director of Shelter, Chris Holmes, called on the government to increase affordable housing, citing the figure of £1.4 billion which is needed from the government to tackle housing problems. He said, "Failing to do so will lead to growing polarisation between communities and ultimately create new ghettos of rich and poor for future generations."

The Shelter report is just one recent indication that the duty of the government to invest in social programmes and guarantee the well-being of the people is being flouted. The right of all people to demand that society fulfil their basic claims for food, shelter and clothing is not being recognised by the state. The polarisation of society into rich and poor is increasing. While the government in words talks about how much they are doing and how much they are passionate about creating a society where "opportunity and wealth are not just for the privileged few" but for "all the people", the harsh facts speak louder than the government’s words. The experience of the broad masses of the people shows that the anti-social offensive is increasing, investments in social programmes are being cut and the people are increasingly being made to fend for themselves or rely on charities such as Shelter. This is taking place in the context where the government is demonstrating that it is the servant of the monopolies as they strive to compete in the global marketplace and count the rights of the workers and the people’s well-being as nothing.

At the same time, other reports, such as that by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB), show that poverty and debt is worsening. In commenting on a NACAB report highlighting how intimidation, harassment and excessive fee charging by bailiffs are driving vulnerable people deeper into poverty and debt, its chief executive, David Harker, called for an end to the system stacked against the "real life situation of those who struggle on inadequate incomes to maintain even a basic standard of living".

In order to live as human beings, working people must be able to count on a livelihood, because before they can engage in any kind of activity they must have food, clothing and shelter. It is evident that the present society is not organised with this basic aim in view, and that all talk about ending "social exclusion" or bringing about "opportunity and wealth for all the people" is a veneer, an expression of policy objectives, which attempt to cover over the brutality of the present society. The objective situation reveals that the people must fight for a society where the well-being of the people is guaranteed as of right.

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WDIE has recently received the May 2000 Bulletin of the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey. The campaign was launched by the Liverpool Dockers’ Shop Stewards’ Delegation to Turkey, July 1996. The text of the Bulletin follows:


May Day was celebrated by workers in over 40 cities with thousands demonstrating peacefully. However, in Diyarbakir and Sinop May Day demonstrations were banned. In Ankara 199 police teams arrested 535 "suspicious" people before May Day. (1.5.2000). Earlier, thousands also demonstrated against privatisation, the IMF, MAI and MIGA agreements in events organised by KESK (Public Sector Workers) and IISSP (Istanbul Workers Union Branches Platform).

Trade unionist's death in custody: police superintendent still free: Mehmet Yutar and Erol Ersan, who tortured DISK Limter-Is Union education expert, Suleyman Yeter, to death in police custody have surrendered. However, superintendent Ahinet Okuducu is still free. The hearing has been postponed to a later date awaiting the attendance of the accused officers and nine witnesses. Prof Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who signed the death certificate of Yeter, is also under investigation and could face a suspension from her post. (26-28.4.2000).

Child labour: A recent study by the ILO shows Turkey to be fourth in the world league table of countries with the highest number of child labourers. In Turkey child labour makes up 24% of the total labour force, comprising 4 million children under 14. They work between 12-16 hours a day under no official safeguards whatsoever. 79.2 % work unpaid, as they are deemed to be in apprenticeships or job training. (24.4.2000).


HRA Campaign: The Turkish Human Rights Association (HRA) has launched a campaign against "cell type" prisons, with the slogan of "cell means death". They say that if prisoners are put into single cells, the result will be enforced isolation and a green light for state forces within the prisons to further harass and torture individual prisoners with impunity. Chairman of HRA Ankara Branch Lutfu Dermirkapi says, "We have launched this campaign to avoid further massacres in future". He also points out that the prisons are full owing to Turkey's lack of civil liberties. "Cell type" prisons are now in the process of being built in Turkey. Last year in Ulucanlar prison, Ankara, 10 prisoners were killed by the security forces. (12.04.2000)

Torture Case: Nur Birgen, chair of the Legal Medical Authority 3rd Specialisation Department, issued a medical report declaring that three prisoners who had been seriously tortured had suffered no injury. The prisoners concerned have taken her to court, with the hearing now adjourned to 3 July 2000. Prisoners' lawyer Metin Narin has himself been brought before an adjudicator for suggesting that Nur Birgen "not only concealed the torture having taken place but also herself watched and directed it in Beyoglu". Narin's case was adjourned to 7 June 2000. (21.04.2000)


Police officer Seydi Banal Kose, ordered to carry out the assault on Metin Goktepe, the journalist beaten to death by police on 8 January 1996, has been given only 20 months imprisonment, 375,000 TL (40 pence) fine and 5 months' suspension from duty. His earlier sentence of 7.5 years imprisonment was recently overturned by the Supreme Court. Metin's mother and solicitors will appeal. (22.04.2000)


Collectively and individually the Kurdish people continue to suffer arbitrary harassment by the authorities. One notorious example is that of Kazim Ozek (Citizen 991104) who, after having his house burned down by state forces in his home town of Mus, tried to start a new life in Istanbul. He has since been subjected for seven years to arrests and police harassment. Evrensel daily newspaper, the Kurdish humorous magazine Pine and another four magazines have been banned from distribution in Kurdish cities under emergency rule (2.5.2000). Please send your protests to these numbers: OHAL Mayoral District Tel: 0090 412 228 63 00-05 Fax: 0090 412 224 35 72 Interior Ministry Tel: 0090 312 425 40 80 Fax: 0090 312 425 45 59 / 0090 312 418 1795.

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