In the last four months of 2021, at least 1,220 rights advocates faced different types of obstacles because of their activities, according to an information note by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV/HRFT).

These obstacles were defined as judicial harassment, administrative harassment, threat and retaliation.

"Human rights defenders were put on trial and punished on baseless charges. They were dismissed from their jobs and activities upon administrative decisions. They were targeted, threatened and retaliated," said the foundation.

"The chilling effect of these measures of criminal law against human rights defenders completely suppresses the climate of advocacy and narrows the civic space," it noted.

Legal harassment

Among the 1,220 rights advocates, 833 faced legal harassment, according to the information note. Some 519 human rights defenders were prosecuted and 21 were sentenced to either prison or pay a judicial fine.

The most common charges against the rights advocates were:

  • Violating Law No. 2911 on Demonstrations and Gatherings
  • Resisting an official to prevent them from performing their duty
  • Inciting people into animosity and hatred
  • Praising a crime and a criminal
  • Provoking to commit a crime
  • Insulting the president

Various crimes defined in the Anti-Terror Law were also widely used against human rights defenders, which causes the legitimacy of activities of human rights advocacy to be undermined, said the TİHV.

State of Emergency Commissions

In the four-month period, 353 human rights advocates faced pressure through administrative inspections, investigations and sanctions, according to the report.

The State of Emergency Commission rejected the applications of the Academics for Peace demanding reinstatement even though the academics were acquitted in trials, the foundation noted.

Also, eight human rights defenders were dismissed from public duty.

Access to the website of a news agency that does human rights-based reporting was banned.

An association that was closed could not continue its activities because the administrative case regarding its closure did not end.


In four months, at least 34 human rights advocates were targeted, threatened or retaliated, according to the TİHV.

Eleven people were marked as a target by the administration because of the funds they receive from different organizations.

Forty-six peaceful gatherings and demonstrations could not be held because of bans issued by civil administrations or interventions by law enforcement forces.

"All the repression and obstructions defined above lead to the creation of a climate where hate, discrimination and animosity towards human rights advocates grow and the weakening of the legitimacy of human rights in the eyes of the public," the foundation said.