Mr Stephen Blanks – NSW Civil Liberties Council President – Welcome Speech

Advocates for Dignity (AFD) officially launched on Tuesday evening, 27th of February 2018 at the scenic setting of Customs House in Sydney.

Advocates for Dignity (AFD) is an advocacy organisation that seeks to promote the rule of law, democracy and preserve fundamental human rights and liberties with a special focus on Turkey and its citizens abroad. However, AFD will cover other countries that Australians have come from to be the voice of people who have escaped from the difficulties and tribulations from the countries they have come from. AFD is a non-profit organisation established by Australians of Turkish descent who seek to raise awareness about the injustices taking place, to make the wider Australian community aware of the unlawful crackdown on the citizens and the cessation of press freedom in countries such as Turkey, Myanmar and Syria to name a few.

AFD officially launched as an organisation by starting with Turkey, a country with eighty million citizens, that is experiencing a dramatic decline in its democracy and swaying towards an autocratic leadership. Turkey, where 191 journalists have been jailed, and close to 200 media outlets have been terminated by a series of arbitrary decisions taken by the Turkish authorities. Our organisation is based in Sydney, Australia, a country that is a strong advocate of freedom of expression.

A human being is the most noble of all creatures on Earth. A creature that builds civilisations, a thinker, a craftsman etc. For this reason, a human being is most precious and deserves to be respected with dignity. This is why we have called our organisation Advocates for Dignity.

In the history of our World, there have been many tyrant leaders who have taken away this very essential right away from their own people. Examples include Dictators such as Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Mubarak, Cambodia’s Pol Pot to name a few. And today in Turkey, like these previous regimes, the Hizmet Movement members are going through the tyranny of the current Turkish regime.

Hizmet Movement members, who are all inspired by the teachings of Mr Fethullah Gülen, who is a contemporary Muslim scholar currently residing in Pennsylvania USA. The Movement has never been associated with any violence and has always initiated activities in Education, Dialogue and Philanthropy. The Erdogan government accuses the movement with a choreographed coup attempt on 15th of July 2016.

Mr Fethullah Gülen immediately reacted as he has never been behind any cue attempts in the past and requested an investigation by an international independent tribunal. The Erdoğan Government never allowed this independent review of this case and instead they have purged and jailed hundreds of thousands of school teachers, Judiciary members, police officers, business people, even house wives....

The figures are astonishing with:

  • 151,967 people dismissed from their jobs

  • 132,668 people detained

  • 64,358 people arrested

  • 3,003 schools, dormitories & universities shut down

  • 5,822 academics lost their jobs

  • 4,463 judges, prosecutors dismissed

  • 189 media outlets shut down

  • 319 journalists arrested

More than 700 babies are now jailed in Turkey ...

Hundreds of journalists are jailed and there is no fair trial and Justice in Turkey. For example: A German journalist of Turkish descent, Deniz Yucel, was jailed for 15 months with no evidence whatsoever. After negotiations with the German Government, he was released last week without a proper trial.

During the same week, three journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak were sentenced to life imprisonment. These three journalists are well known pro- democracy journalists. Judges and prosecutors have to follow the orders of the Erdoğan government, as failure to do so, will also lead to their jailing.

People have escaped and still escape from Turkey. Some of them are in Australia and are applying for a protection visa. These people are good business people, academics, teachers, doctors, even university students. They have traumatic stress. Some of them started their own businesses in Australia and became tax payers, whilst some of them are still struggling. Advocates for Dignity will be a voice for them. We are willing to help them to adjust to Australian society and mateship spirit properly.

Unfortunately, every one of them were not lucky enough to reach Australia or other safe countries.

AFD will be the voice of the Turks who have managed to reach Australia safely and to be the voice of >10,000 Turkish families who have escaped Turkey over the last 2 years.