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Sergen Kahraman Çotak

HRD, Student

Sergen Kahraman Çotak is a human rights defender, working on LGBTIQ+ rights. He specifically works on university campuses to eliminate homophobia, transphobia, and sexism. He is an avid musician and a Molecular Biology and Genetics student at Boğaziçi University, and was also a member of the banned LGBTIQ+ student club at the university. He was actively involved in the protests organised in response to the appointment of a new rector to the university by a presidential decree on 2 January 2021.

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.