Pressure on human rights defenders in Turkey continue. Most recently, a court action was launched against the central executive board members of the Human Rights Association (HRA) at the Court of First Instance No: 5 in Beyoğlu district in Istanbul.
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), which the HRA is a member organization, held its International Bureau meeting in Istanbul on 13-14 February 1999. FIDH decided to hold its International Bureau Meeting in Istanbul to show its solidarity with the human rights defenders in Turkey, in particular to the then president of the HRA and also the vice president of the FIDH, Akin Bridal, who was subjected to an armed assault. HRA appreciated this decision. Many human rights defenders from different parts of Turkey attended this meeting upon the call of the FIDH.
A total of 11 executive board members of the HRA were sued because of the International Bureau meeting which was held in Istanbul. A court action, demanding prison terms between 6 months and 2 years for each and the closure of the HRA, was launched against all the executive board members of the HRA. The executives are going to give their statements on 23 September 1999 in Ankara. The date of the hearing will be announced later.
It is stated in the indictment “Although there is no any decision taken by the Council of Ministers which permits the Human Rights Association to carry international activities and to join similar foreign associations; although there was no permission from the Interior Ministry to invite foreign associations and their members to Turkey and to give opportunity to foreigners for making speeches in a meeting; Central Executive Board members of the Human Rights Association organized the International Bureau Meeting of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, which has consultative status at the UN and is based in Paris and which Akin Birdal is the Vice President, in Beyoglu in Istanbul on 13-14 February 1999; and thus the accused have committed the crimes as it is stated in the preparatory report .
…… Therefore, it is demanded that the accused; Akin Birdal, Osman Baydemir, Mehmet Suavi Saygan, Hüsnü Ondül, Nazmi Gür, Hediye Güllen Dikmen, Sedat Aslantaş, Yusuf Alataş, Hulusi Sabri Dokuzoguz, Varlık Ozmenek and Lütfi Demirkapl to be sentenced individually under articles 7, 43, 77/3 and 82 of the Law on Associations No: 2908; and under articles 3 and 28/1 of the Law on Meeting and Demonstrations.”
Turkey, as a state party of many international human rights declarations and conventions, has also adopted the UN Declaration for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders dated 9 December 1998. However, pressure on human rights defenders continue intensively. We, call on international human rights organizations to be in solidarity with the Human Rights Association.