İstanbul Convention is ours, we will never give up on it

Statement by HDP Women’s Assembly:

İstanbul Convention is ours, we will never give up on it.

The Presidential Decree on Istanbul Convention is null and void!

At the behest of the AKP-MHP coalition, which has been carrying out on a heavy attack against both HDP and the women's struggle for six years, three things happened in three days last week: A closure case was filed against HDP, HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his status and a declaration on Turkey's withdrawal from İstanbul Convention was issued.

With a Presidential Decree published in the Official Gazette at midnight on 20 March 2021, the decision that "the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, which was signed by Turkey, shall be terminated on the part of Turkey" was announced to the whole world. This decision was taken despite the strong opposition coming from the women organizations and public and political opposition without even being brought up to discussion in the parliament.

Unless those who took this step face deterrent actions, their next step will most likely be to withdraw from all international conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Convention against Torture, the Geneva Convention and CEDAW which the AKP systematically violates, constantly facing accusations for it. This would be seen as an exit strategy so; this is not a remote possibility.

It can be seen that Erdogan- Bahçeli coalition in power, who has previously stated that they are working on a Human Rights reform, has an understanding of a reform which prescribes measures such as withdrawing signatures from international conventions and eliminating the opposition being subjected to the human rights violations in question completely in order to fix their human rights record.

In a period where violence against women and children is escalating day by day, killing women has reached the dimension of femicide and gender inequality can be felt deeply in every part of life, not only in Turkey but all around the world, withdrawal of a first signatory state from a European convention, which protects women, children and LGBT+ individuals and puts the responsibility of preventing discrimination and domestic violence on the signatory states, is a step back which lays a bad precedent for women rights, equality and democracy as a whole. It is a breach made in the achievements of not only women in Turkey but women of the world and therefore is a problem for women all around the world. We strongly believe that all women around the world should raise their objections and we should be insistent on receiving a strong reaction from the international community against such an attitude which encourages perpetrators of violence against women and femicide and that it should not be left unpenalized.

There is a need for a more concrete and explicit position on the part of the European Union and Council of Europe, acknowledging that their shortcomings in defending the European criteria on human rights and democracy as needed so far has played their share in leading President Tayyip Erdoğan on to believe that he can withdraw from a European convention without facing any sanctions.

In all cities of Turkey and Kurdistan, women have risen in protest in streets, squares and neighbourhoods against this attack from the state on the women's right to an equal life free from violence and demanding the withdrawal of the decision. We refuse to let the male-dominant mindset take away our social achievements.

While we are doing our part within the country, we urgently call for the international community and the world public opinion to do their part as well, taking an unhesitant, clear and firm stance.

We invite the women of the world and their organizations to solidarity and to collective action.

HDP Women’s Assembly
25 March 2021