New information
TUR 001 / 0317 / OBS 026.1
Provisional release / Judicial harassment
Turkey
March 24, 2017
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
 
New information:
 
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the provisional release of Mr. Raci Bilici, Vice-President of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Chairperson of IHD Diyarbakır.
 
According to the information received, on March 21, 2017, Mr. Raci Bilici was interrogated by the Public Prosecutor in the morning, before being heard by the Criminal Peace Judge on Duty in Diyarbakır in the afternoon. The court decided to release Mr. Raci Bilici on condition of judicial control. As a consequence, Mr. Raci Bilici is subjected to a travel ban and must check once a week at Diyarbakır’s police station.
 
The Public Prosecutor announced that he would pursue an investigation under the Anti-Terrorism Law (Law 3713 of April 1991) for Mr. Bilici’s alleged “relations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” punished by Article 314 of the Penal Code and submit an indictment to the court. The exact reasons for the charges remain unclear as the content of the case file remains confidential including for his lawyer pursuant to the Article 153.2 of the Turkish Criminal Code Procedure (No. 5271).
 
The Observatory recalls in particular that the Anti-Terrorism Law has been repeatedly used by the authorities as a tool to harass and imprison human rights defenders.
 
Mr. Raci Bilici’s arrest took place against the background of an increased repression against those who have expressed critical views of the current administration, including human rights defenders, following the July 15, 2016, failed coup, and in a particularly tense political climate, ahead of the constitutional referendum set to take place on April 16, 2017.
 
The Observatory fears that IHD’s monitoring of human rights violations triggered the arrest of Mr. Raci Balici. Indeed, IHD had recently provided information for a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) exposing human rights violations in South-East Turkey in relation to security operations conducted by the Turkish authorities between July 2015 and December 2016. IHD’s inputs have been crucial, since the OHCHR had been refused access by the Turkish authorities to the South-East region to investigate into allegations of massive destructions, killings and other serious human rights violations[1].
 
The Observatory welcomes the provisional release ofMr. Raci Bilici but condemns the harassment, including at the judicial level, targeting him and which only aims at sanctioning to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to end all forms of harassment against Mr. Raci Bilici and to lift the travel ban in force against him.
 
Background information:
 
On March 15, 2017 at 6:00 am, Mr. Raci Bilici was arrested at his house by five police men and brought to the Diyarbakır Provincial Security Directorate Anti-Terror Bureau. No reason was provided regarding his arrest.
 
Mr. Raci Bilici was amongst the 4,350 teachers who were suspended from duty in Turkey’s South-Eastern Diyarbakır province on September 8, 2016, under Decree Law No. 677. The Ministry of National Education alleged that these teachers “joined activities to prevent domestic operations against terrorist organisations from being successful, failed curfews declared in several districts and cities and violated the right to education”
 
Actions requested:
 
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Raci Bilici as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
 
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at judicial level, against Mr. Raci Bilici, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;
 
iii. Lift the travel ban in force against Mr. Raci Bilici;
 
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
 
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.
Addresses:
 
·       President of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
·       Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Binali Yıldırım; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
·       Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr
·       Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr
·       Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Twitter account: @MFATurkey
·       Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50, Email: tr-delegation.eu@mfa.gov.tr
·       H.E. Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: mission.turkey@ties.itu.int
 
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.
 
***
 
Paris-Geneva, March 24, 2017
 
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1]    See Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report on the human rights situation in South-East Turkey, February 2017 available at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/TR/OHCHR_South-East_TurkeyReport_10March2017.pdf