HUMAN RIGHTS ACADEMY
Turkey has been associated with human rights violations over the past years, and it is rated as “not free” in Freedom House's latest report in 2021. The country’s experience with a deepening human rights crisis led society to normalize unfair indictments against journalists, lawyers and human rights activists.
In countries like Turkey, the protection and implementation of human rights depends primarily on education on human rights. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation Turkey Office helps developing and spreading human rights knowledge in Turkey. In a first step, a new platform was established: the Human Rights Academy (HRA), which provides human rights education for those who have received little or no human rights education before applying to the Academy's programs.
Since January 2020, the Academy has offered three basic level and two advanced level human rights courses, a summer school on migration in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a thematic course on the fragile groups. Each program consisted of 14 lectures to the indepth inputs from highly qualified instructors like ECtHR Attorney Att. Veysel Ok, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Prof. Dr Yakın Ertürk and other valuable names. The weekly themes varied from the history of human rights to international mechanisms to protect human rights and from gender equality and rights' movement to minority rights with additional curricular activities; the tasks for participants, active discussions, movie screening, case studies and hands-on exercises.
The approach of the HRA is "human rights law-led" but also informed by other disciplinary perspectives. Its interdisciplinary character is shown by the focus of the course programs, selection of the participants, the trainers' background, subjects of the public events and the methodology used during the activities. Each program has 25 seats and the participants are selected among more than 6000 applications.
In its first year, the HRA has gained recognition as one of Turkey's leading human rights institutes, providing interactive human rights training through its highly professional programs and activities. As a result of the pandemic, the format switched to online; however, it allowed us to have much more extensive outreach to interested people from all over Anatolia. To keep this diverse connection alive, the Academy has an alumni network and organizes digital and physical gatherings that help to build a sustainable network. The Academy offers diverse activities to raise awareness and attention to human rights issues and the importance of human rights education in Turkey.