The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), representing the Turkish community in Western Thrace, attended the webinar organized by the United Nations (UN) on 12 November 2020 at the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. ABTTF International Affairs Director Melek Kırmacı Arık participated in the webinar entitled “10 Years of Protecting Freedom of Assembly and Association: How Much Have We Progressed and How Can States Do More?”.
During the webinar, which was moderated by Douglas Rutzen, President of International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), the importance of freedom of peaceful assembly and association was underlined and the need not to curtail this freedom during the Covid-19 pandemic was expressed.
At the webinar, high ranking officials such as UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Clement Voule, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Antanas Linkevičius, EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif assessed the current situation as regards freedom of peaceful assembly and association and discussed the role of the governments. The speakers indicated that in the digital age, the freedom of physical and online assembly and association should be protected, and civil society should be supported in both platforms. It was also noted that freedom of assembly and association has led to strong and visible civil society in the world to increase.
At the webinar where the participants could lodge their questions in a written manner, ABTTF asked in what ways the UN could encourage states more strongly or call them for action with respect to implementing the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning national minorities.