New information
TUR 007 / 1116 / OBS 097.2
Judicial harassment
Turkey
May 16, 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 about the schedule of the trial of Mr. Levent Pişkin, a human rights lawyer member of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği – ÖHD), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersexed (LGBTI) rights activist and member of the Justice Commission of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)[1] .
According to the information received,on May 18, 2017,the first hearing on the merits in Mr. Levent Pişkin’s trial is schedule to take place before the 8th Heavy Penal Court in Bursa.
 
Following his arrest on November 14, 2016 and his provisional release two days later, on November 16, Mr. Levent Pişkin received an indictment in April, 2017, almost six months after his arrest. According to the indictment, Mr. Levent Pişkin was charged for fulfilling his duties as an attorney.The Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor Gökhan Şen indeed accused Mr. Pişkin of “using his attorney ID to visit his client Selahattin Demirtaş, who is currently jailed in Edirne Penitentiary, and accepting [his fellow attorney Cahit] Kırkazak’s proposal to deliver a message from Mr. Demirtaş to the German magazine Der Spiegel, in order to bring the arrest of Mr. Demirtaş to the international agenda and into lobbying efforts on the international stage”.
 
Specifically, the prosecution claimed that many stories published in Der Spiegelcontain insults to the Turkish state and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spread unfounded news that insults, teases and belittles the country, and pursues an editorial policy that stokes public opinion against the country in order to discredit the nation on the international stage”.
 
The indictment further refers to Mr. Levent Pişkin’s phone call with fellow attorney Cahit Kırkazak, who was taken into custody in the same investigation as him, as a “phone communication within the organisational hierarchy”, and Mr. Pişkin’s membership in a WhatsApp group named “HDPIstanbul” was also included in his list of crimes.
 
The Observatory deplores the continuing judicial harassment against Mr. Levent Pişkin, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities as an attorney. The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to drop all the charges against him and, in the meantime, to ensure that all judicial proceedings against him are carried out in full compliance with the right to due process, the right to a fair trial and the right to be presumed innocent, as protected under international law.
 
Background information:
 
On November 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. the police raided in Mr. Levent Pişkin’s apartment, confiscated some of his belongings, including his computer and phone, and arrested him. The Public Prosecution Office ordered his placement in custody and he was transferred to Bursa Detention Centre.
 
The arrest was related to his visit to his client, Member of Parliament, Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş, HDP co-Chair, detained since November 4, 2016. Some media accused him of conveying  Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş’s message to a German Magazine which could be used as propaganda.
 
At the day of his arrest, he was supposed to defend 46 lawyers,  facing judicial harassment since 2011 for exercising their profession.
 
Moreover, Mr. Levent Pişkin has been targeted of several acts of harassment over the past years. In March 2014, he was sued by President Erdogan and sentenced by the Istanbul’s 14th Criminal Court to pay 10 thousand liras (around $3,700) in damages for “insult, slander or heavy provocation of a public official for their public service”. He reacted to a speech by Mr. Erdogan, Prime minister at the time, who said that “if Alevism is about loving Ali, I’m a perfect Alevi”, and tweeted “Waiting for PM to declare ‘I am a perfect fag’. Obviously I will not learn how to be a fag from you. Kisses.#AnayasadaLGBT [LGBT in the Constitution]”.
In 2016, a bomb exploded in his garden which is apparently related to Turkish nationalists.
Actions requested:
 
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Levent Pişkin  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. Levent Pişkin, as well as other human rights defenders in Turkey, and in particular lawyers,since it only seems to aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights work;
 
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
 
iv. 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, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
·       Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara – Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00
·       Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr
·       Minister of Interior, Mr. Efkan Ala; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00;Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr
·       Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
·       Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; 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, May 16, 2017
 
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·       E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
·       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]                 HDP is the Peoples’ Democratic Party which is a left wing political party in favor of minorities.