Istanbul Convention is Ours – We Will Never Give Up on It

statement by the Woman Assembly of HDP

The Presidential Decree on Istanbul Convention is Null and Void!

At the behest of 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 its 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 mind-set 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 a unhesitant,
clear and firm stance.

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