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Manifesto for authentic and effective cooperation in the field of human rights in Turkey

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Alain Navarra-Navassartian & Alexis Krikorian, co-founders of Hyestart


Students of Bogazici University demonstrate outside a court as they demand the release of their fellow college students who are on trial for protesting against President Tayyip Erdogan's appointment of a new rector in Istanbul, Turkey, January 7, 2021. Banner front reads, "Defending the university is not a crime! Release the detainees!"

"Defending the university is not a crime! Release the detainees!". Students demanding the release of their fellow college students who are on trial for protesting against President Erdogan's appointment of a new University rector in Istanbul. Bogazici University, 7 January 2021. (Duvar)

(This text follows our text of 11 November 2020 entitled We are appalled but we will not give up).

We wish to use this manifesto to clarify our text of 11 November, 2020, entitled We are appalled, but we will not give up that was written in the aftermath of the Armenian defeat in the Second Karabakh War, a war that was unleashed by Azerbaijan on 27 September, 2020 with the full support of Turkey and with almost general indifference.

We maintain that this simple fact of the Azeri aggression, which is at the origin of the deadly fighting, coupled with their numerous war crimes, means that Azerbaijan has de facto lost all moral rights over Nagorno-Karabakh and its inhabitants. Only self-determination can guarantee the inhabitants' security, as well as that of the endangered Armenian heritage. Beyond energy security issues, it is high time for the international community to recognize this fact. The new American Administration, which says it wants to place its international policy under the banner of "values", should work in this direction. For the time being, there have been conflicting signals from Washington on Karabagh. We will soon see – by 24 April - whether the new Administration is able to restore the credibility of the US genocide prevention policy, or not.

In our text of 11 November, 2020, we announced that we no longer want to commit ourselves to human rights in Turkey, not until a statesman or stateswoman decides to confront the history and culture of violence in this country. Let us recall here that during the victory parade organized in Baku on 10 December, 2020 (International Human Rights Day!), Erdogan, who had previously called the Armenian flag a "rag", praised Enver Pasha, one of the architects of the Armenian genocide, who was also responsible for the massacre of 10,000 Armenians in the same city of Baku in 1918. We are therefore a long way from that.

We also announced that we were going to focus on Armenia and Artsakh and their needs, especially social- and economic-focused ones, according to modalities to be defined.

After careful consideration, we hereby announce that we want to maintain Hyestart as it is, while having the will to create a sister structure in Armenia in order to deal with issues of social economy in particular.

We therefore remain committed to human rights and democracy in Turkey and Armenia through Hyestart.

Simply, and in accordance with the spirit of our text of 11 November 2020, we will cooperate in Turkey only with people and organizations that clearly and definitively recognize the Armenian genocide, for example with those of our Kurdish friends and some of our Turkish friends who had expressed their solidarity during the second Karabagh war.

On the other hand, and this is undoubtedly what we meant in our 11 November text, "dialogue" and work with those who do not recognize the reality of the Armenian genocide or, worse, those who have ulterior motives, will simply no longer be relevant. The period of pretense, which sometimes characterized the Turkish-Armenian "dialogue" of the years 2000-2020, must thus come to an end, from our point of view. A new era of efficiency and authenticity must now begin. We will also apply this rule with non-Turkish individuals and organizations.

We will cooperate in Turkey - it is a commitment - only with those who are committed to working for the dismantling of State-sponsored (systemic) racism and its corollary - the true poison for Turkish democracy and peace in the region - State-sponsored denialism. From our point of view, these are the real battles to be fought. On their outcome will depend the fate of all other human rights in Turkey and beyond.

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