TUR 006 / 0817 / OBS 086
Arbitrary detention / Conditional Release /

Judicial harassment /
Ill-treatment /
Turkey

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and the provisional release three days later of Ms. Gülseren Yoleri, President of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Haklari Derneği – İHD) and Executive Committee member of IHD, and Mr. Dogan Ozkan, member of the IHD Istanbul executive board.

According to the information received, on August 5, 2017, around 8 pm, the police arrested Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan alongside with at least 39 demonstrators, including journalists and lawyers, following a protest, in the Besiktas district. The protest was held in support of Ms. Nuriye Gülmen and Mr. Semih Özakça, two dismissed teachers who have been in a hunger strike for more than 150 days and are famous for their struggle denouncing the mass layoffs initiated by the Turkish authorities after the failed coup d’état in 2016.

The 41 arrested protesters were taken to Eminyiet police station. Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan and other demonstrators were victims of ill-treatment during the arrest. Ms. Gülseren Yoleri was beaten at the police station and Mr. Dogan Ozkan was handcuffed and beaten during his arrest and at the police station. Another imprisoned protester, Ms. Barkin Timtik, a lawyer, was also beaten after she refused to give her finger prints at the police station.

Furthermore, the arrested protesters were denied proper access to their lawyers, who were allowed a limited contact with their clients. The Public Prosecutor rejected meeting requests of the lawyers without providing grounds.

On August 8, 2017, the Peace Criminal Judge ordered the provisional release of the 41 detainees, including Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan on condition of judicial control [1]. The 41 are still facing prosecution for allegedly “making propaganda on behalf of an illegal organisation” (Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law – ATL) and participating in non-authorised demonstration (Article 2911 of the Penal Code).

The Observatory expresses its deepest concerns over this new wave of arbitrary arrests targeting human rights defenders for the exercise of their freedoms of association and peaceful assembly.

The Observatory strongly condemns the judicial harassment of Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan, which appears to only aim at sanctioning to their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to end all forms of harassment against Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:

  1. Guarantee Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan the right to due process and a fair trial, including adequate access to their lawyers and to information about the judicial procedure against them;
  2. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Gülseren Yoleri and Mr. Dogan Ozkan as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
  3. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at judicial level, against Messrs. Gülseren Yoleri and Dogan Ozkan, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;
  4. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of physical and psychological pressure of Messrs. Gülseren Yoleri and Dogan Ozkan in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply the sanctions provided by the law to them;
  5. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
  6. 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, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31
  •                 Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım, Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82 Email: ozelkalem@basbakanlik.gov.tr
  •                 Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: ozelkalem@adalet.gov.tr
  •                 Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30
  •                 Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
  •                 Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 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, August 9, 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 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:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] The judicial control includes a travel ban to leave the country and the obligation to appear at the police station once a week on Saturdays.