Statement: Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the continued detention of women human rights activists in Turkey


I am deeply concerned at the continued detention of senior civil society leaders and women’s rights defenders in Turkey and the allegations that several face of ‘committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization …', after taking part in a training workshop on digital security and protection for human rights defenders on Büyükada Island. They join a growing multitude of gender equality and human rights advocates arrested and imprisoned in the country.

In its investigation of wrongdoing, the Government must abide by international human rights norms and due process. I accordingly call on the Government of Turkey to immediately release the arrested women’s rights and human rights activists and to provide its support to those, like women’s human rights defenders, who work for the good of their societies.

Turkey’s previous history of commitment to women's human rights has included important support for international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the “Istanbul Convention” on preventing and combating violence against women. Its hosting of key women's rights conferences such as the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) Conference in 2012 previously signaled encouragement for women's greater voice and influence. Recent developments jeopardize this positive international role. 

The women’s movement in Turkey has been at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality and women’s rights in Turkey and in the world. Their work along with other civil society activists is crucial for consensus building, for peace and democracy, and is an integral and vital part of achieving sustainable development. UN Women stands in solidarity with all human rights and women’s rights defenders who continue to work towards these goals that ultimately benefit us all.