January 28, 2019
Turkey’s anti-democratic mentality has not changed since its foundation, but it has never been as oppressive as today, said award-winning Turkish human rights lawyer Eren Keskin.
Over the years, Keskin played a vital role in strengthening civil society awareness in Turkey. She became involved with the Human Rights Association (IHD) three years after its 1986 founding and headed its Istanbul branch for years.
She has been arrested and imprisoned numerous times, accused of terrorist ties for defending Kurdish rights, and won several international honors for her activism, including the Aachen Peace Award, the Theodore Haecker Prize, and just last year, the Helsinki Civil Society Award.
“Turkey’s undemocratic mentality has not changed since its foundation,” said Keskin. “There is no change in the mind or understanding of the state. I have been part of the struggle for human rights for nearly 30 years. I have not experienced a period in which freedom of thought and freedom of expression have been contravened this much. Turkey is more oppressive today than ever.”
Keskin said she had been brought before the courts more than 100 times and convicted on numerous occasions.
“I see the struggle for the defence of human rights as respect for those who have died. It is out of respect for them that I am part of the struggle for human rights,” she said. “We experienced a lot of pressure, but our friends were killed. They were killed fighting for human dignity. I am lucky to be alive…I was assaulted twice with firearms, imprisoned and threatened with death, but never gave up.”