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Emel Kurma

HRD, Co-Executive Coordinator
Citizens' Assembly

Emel Kurma is a human right defender and Co-Executive Coordinator of the Citizens’ Assembly, formerly Helsinki Citizens' Assembly h(Ca), founded in 1990 and based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Having volunteered in various human rights organisations in mid-90s, Emel Kurma has eventually assumed responsibility as the general coordinator at the Citizens’ Assembly. In that role, she has worked on building strategy, project development, supervision of operations and finances, resource generation, and team coordination.

(h)Ca advocates rights, freedoms, peace and pluralism, intercultural citizenship, rule of law and justice, accountable and transparent public administration, and a political economy that is socio-ecologically credible.

The organisation also promotes civic engagement in policy processes and advocates peaceful, democratic dialogue and negotiation in addressing conflicts, as well as the building & practice of these values and democratic conduct in daily life, across political, administrative, socio-economic and cultural borders. (h)Ca has carried out activities across Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and in Europe.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.

Through the wide-ranging use of State of Emergency laws, the Turkish government has significantly infringed on the rights to freedom of expression, media, assembly, and association, and has particularly restricted the liberty of those engaged in human rights work. These laws enable even further human rights violations, as HRDs often do not have the freedom to monitor the activities of the security forces, who have been granted extensive powers.


Emel Kurma, Turkey - Testimony at the 2017 Dublin Platform