Three Rapporteurs from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, visited Istanbul, Turkey in October 1998. The remit of their task was to verify and catalogue the extent of abuses of human rights perpetrated by the various organs of the Turkish state against its citizens.
IHRC has been monitoring the deteriorating situation in Turkey over the previous two year period. It had noted a new phenomenon in Turkish politics, stemming from the February 1997 ruling by the National Security Council that, “Muslims are the number one enemy of the principles of the state of Turkey.” Indeed the statement went further to prioritise the removal of a perceived rise in ‘Islamic activism’ as a priority over anti-Kurdish action by the state. This had resulted in what appeared from reports to be a sustained attack on any vestige of Islamic identity displayed by Turkish and Kurdish citizens. Mainstream reporting, such as there has been of this issue had concentrated on Turkish state action against the Refah (Welfare Party) and its successor Fazilat (Virtue) Party. However there appear to be a catalogue of abuses of human rights targeting not only those who are overtly active in the political arena e.g. politicians, journalists, writers, but also students, public sector workers, even private civilians adhering to Islamic dress codes, or even supporting the rights of others to do so. Many so-called activists were imprisoned, and reports of torture abounded. The rapporteurs went to Istanbul to assess how far the reports of such activities were justified, and the extent to which they represent fully fledged organised persecution.