How Do We Work?

Hakikat Adalet Hafıza Merkezi (Hafıza Merkezi, engl. Truth Justice Memory Center) has defined its short and middle term thematic focus as  “enforced disappearances” as part of its efforts to contribute to Turkey’s coming to terms with its past atrocities.

Hafıza Merkezi bases its work on four fundamental pillars of action.

  1. Memory Studies Program: Carries out documentation and reporting in line with internationally recognized standards, with a view to uncover truths about human rights violations committed by the state.
  2. Legal Studies Program: Performs legal action for the ending of impunity and to support victim groups’ struggle for justice.  Click here to read the main findings of the legal studies program.
  3. Dissemination and Advocacy Program: Coordinates activities for the public dissemination and advocacy of the knowledge produced by the center.
  4. Co-operation and Capacity Building Program:  Works to accumulate and build expertise in the area of organization’s work and share it through collaboration and providing support to other organizations.

Read below for more detailed information on these pillars of action:


Memory Studies Program

The Memory Studies Program corresponds to the organisation’s first objective, that is to uncover and document human rights violations committed by the state. Standardization and centralization of documentation work constitutes an important step for an evident-based study of the problem. Therefore the fundamental objectives of the work we carry in Memory Studies Program are to standardize the documentation, gather all the available information in a single source and try to complete the missing links in cases of enforced disappearances in Turkey.

Hafıza Merkezi implements documentation mainly through field research, by way carrying out interviews with victims, their families and witnesses. Information from secondary sources, such as the media, earlier reports by international and domestic organizations, academic research and studies are also used as part of documentation studies.

Information collected from and the relationship established with the victims’ groups are of paramount importance for the work of Hafıza Merkezi. This is why we pay utmost attention to the nature of relationship we establish with victim groups, as well as grassroots organisations that work with them. The work and analysis this program produces becomes available for use in multiple purposes, including memory and memorialization initiatives, efforts to bring public attention on these issues, supporting and instigating prosecutions, as well as archiving for any future research and reference on these human rights violations.

Hafıza Merkezi also publishes reports aimed at preserving the memory of victims of widespread state violence.

Target group(s) of the program include victims of grave human rights violations, their families and witnesses of crimes.

Enforced Disappearances Database

The information collected during documentation are gathered into a database, a counterpart to those observed around the world. The information is available for online public access from the website “Enforced Disappearances Database“. The ambition is for the database to cover cases of enforced disappearances in Turkey starting from the military coup in September 12, 1980. The database is structured on each event of disappearance, and includes information on the personal information of the disappeared, date and place of the disappearance, the story of disappearance, (if available) legal situation and suspects of the crime.

Activities

  • Collection of documentation through field research,
  • Collection of documentation through analysis of various sources,
  • Cerification,
  • Database building, compilation, archiving,
  • Reporting.

Legal Studies Program

The Legal Studies Program corresponds to the organization’s objective of ending impunity for human rights violations. Under this program, Hafıza Merkezi collects and analyzes judicial data about grave human rights violations, most notably enforced disappearances and calls for accountability of state officials for their responsibilities in grave human rights violation.

Hafıza Merkezi identifies systematic flows within legislation and judicial processes based on the research on the concluded/ongoing investigation and case files and makes strategic interventions towards transforming judiciary into an effective mechanism for human rights protection in Turkey. Hafıza Merkezi also carries out trial monitoring of critical cases and  regularly informs public on the legal proceedings.

Target group(s) of  the program include legal professionals, state institutions.

Activities 

  • Analysis of documentation collected by Hafıza Merkezi (Memory Program),
  • Monitoring of judicial processes,
  • Analysis of legal-institutional framework for prosecution of officials responsible for human rights violations,
  • Monitoring and analysis of relevant cases at the European Court of Human Rights,
  • Strategic litigation and legal support and
  • Compiling, formulating and submitting criminal charges.

Main Findings of the Legal Studies Program


Communication and Advocacy Program

Hafıza Merkezi pays special attention to communicating its call for justice with the wider public. The fundamental objective is to make visible the repressed/marginalized voices of the victims and to trigger public discussions on what happened in the past centered on the memories of the victims.

Public advocacy efforts of Hafıza Merkezi are mainly composed of communicating and advocating the findings of other programs with citizens and public/governmental bodies.  Hafıza Merkezi also produces periodic communications related with enforced disappearances and disseminates them through both traditional and social media. Furthermore, the organization benefits from creative/artistic means such as exhibitions, publications and documentary films in its efforts to include a wider section of the society to the discussion on truth, justice and memory. The common denominator of all these means of communication is that they are based on factual findings and provide a specific insight from the perspective of victims.

Target group(s) of the program include general public in Turkey, state institutions, and decision-makers, media, youth, young adults, university students, young human rights organisations, wider sections of society.

Youth Studies 

Hafıza Merkezi’s focus on youth hope to contribute to the shaping of a responsible generation sensitive to rights of victims of human rights violations. Hafıza Merkezi strongly believes that the most efficient way of decreasing the potential for future widespread human rights violations is ensuring that young people have access to open and critical education, as well as that they are encouraged to get involved in social and political issues. For this reason, Hafıza Merkezi implements activities directed at youth and young adults, mostly university students. Finally, having in mind the specificities of the effort, all activities are organized in a way that the participants have a particularly active role in their implementation.

Activities

  • Production and dissemination of different types of content, in particular on enforced disappearances, transitional justice in general,
  • Truth telling by creative use of communication tools,
  • Publication of books,
  • Organization of exhibitions in cooperation with cultural organizations,
  • Production of documentary films,
  • Funding opportunities for artistic projects,
  • Education programs about human rights, transitional justice and dealing with the past,
  • Supporting youth projects,
  • Research and analysis on social and political attitudes of youth,
  • Skill-based trainings,
  • Campaigning.

Co-operation and Capacity Building Program

This pillar of action corresponds to Hafıza Merkezi’s objective to accumulate and build expertise in the area of organization’s work and share it through collaboration and providing support to other organizations. Hafıza Merkezi believes that only an open process in which numerous organizations work together, exchange knowledge and tools as well as support each other can bring about a desired societal change. This is why Hafıza Merkezi accumulates resources such as international experience in the fields of transitional justice, historical dialogue, dealing with the past and democratization, and encourages civil society in Turkey to base its work on such concrete and useful knowledge and tools. Also, Hafıza Merkezi supports other organizations, especially the victims’ groups to empower them in their pursuit of justice.

Target group(s) of the program include human rights organizations in Turkey and abroad, experts in the field, victims’ groups.

Activities

  • Translation and dissemination of articles and books,
  • Building working relations and partnerships with international organisations,
  • Forming, coordinating and joining int’l/regional networks,
  • Providing financial and organisational support to local organizations,
  • Organization of symposiums, meetings and conferences.