Turkey: Call for Proposals for Policy Brief Series
Freedom House seeks proposals on the impact of the earthquake on civil society’s role in protecting fundamental freedoms in Turkey
Freedom House calls for proposals from both rising and experienced independent researchers, scholars, and affiliated research analysts, especially those based in Turkey for forward-looking briefs on civil society’s role in crisis situations and its place in post-earthquake Turkey.
Two earthquakes of 7.6 and 7.7 magnitudes struck ten provinces in Southern Turkey on February 6, 2023. According to the latest official figures, 45,089 people lost their lives and the death toll is still rising a month after the earthquake. One-sixth of Turkey’s population, more than 13 million people, is thought to have been affected by these earthquakes. The government’s response in the critical hours after the earthquake hit was slow and uncoordinated. State institutions that are under the authority of President Erdogan, or of officials appointed by him failed to quickly mobilize resources to help the citizens affected by the disaster. In contrast, many civil society organizations stepped up in the darkest hours of the disaster, providing lifesaving aid and rescue efforts. At a moment of national crisis, instead of coordinating its efforts with civil society, the Turkish government appears to see civil society’s robust response to the earthquake as a challenge and took steps to silence critics about the slow official response to the earthquake. The government blocked access to social media and communication platforms which were critical in the wake of a crisis, and many people in Turkey depended on these platforms to seek aid and locate missing persons. Prominent Istanbul-based political commentators and journalists across Turkey who have criticized the government’s rescue efforts are under investigation, while two journalists were detained on suspicion of “inciting hatred” against the ruling party. According to the police, around 134 people have been detained over “provocative posts” and 25 of them have been arrested after government officials warned against “lethal disinformation” jeopardizing the rescue efforts. Many opposition TV channels received fines and were subjected to suspension of broadcasting because of their critical coverage of the news concerning the earthquake. Amid this crackdown on dissent, Turkish civil society, in addition to its rescue and humanitarian efforts, is playing a vital role in protecting the fundamental rights of Turkish citizens.
As part of the policy brief series, Freedom House aims to create a common ground for different civil society actors to address human rights issues in the country. Through these briefs, non-traditional authors, such as lawyers, university faculty, and students, can write forward-looking briefs on themes covering fundamental freedoms in Turkey. The last policy brief in the series analyzed growing restrictions on the media, the newly enacted disinformation law and its impact on protecting electoral integrity before the 2023 elections in Turkey.
This brief will look into the different ways that civil society has responded to and been impacted by the crisis and its changing relationship to society and the government. Among possible questions, the selected brief could examine the ability of Turkish civil society to step in where the state failed, outline civil society’s role and effective organization despite the government’s long-term crackdown through the years of restricting freedom of association and arbitrary detentions or the vital role of Turkish civil society in protecting human rights and demanding accountability in these crisis situations in addition to its contribution to humanitarian efforts.
Please submit concept proposals to email@example.com by March 24, 2023, with “Turkey Policy Briefs” in the subject line. The concept proposal should consist of an abstract of no more than 300 words, an outline of the argument and recommendations to be presented, and a CV of the principal researcher or researchers. Organizations may submit proposals for more than one brief. The priority will be given to concept proposals submitted in English. Also, Freedom House will encourage non-traditional journalists, such as lawyers or students, to provide the opportunity to write about the issues impacting their lives or livelihoods.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and one policy brief will be produced. Contracted researcher(s) will be asked to deliver a draft of 2500-3000 words. The brief will be copy-edited, published, and promoted by Freedom House, with the byline and affiliation of the researcher. An honorarium of between $500 and $1,000 will be provided, depending on the scope and length of the brief.