TUR 002 / 0218 / OBS 016
Arbitrary arrest /
Arbitrary detention /
February 1, 2018
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 judicial harassment of six members of IHD (İnsan Haklari Derneği – Human Rights Association) including Executive Board Member Ms. Nuray Çevirmen, IHD member Mr. Ali Dağdelen, Kars Branch President Mr. Ahmet Adigüzel, Former President of IHD Çanakkale Branch and current Executive Board Member Mr. Hayrettin Pişkin, Malatya Branch Executive Member Mr. Mehmet Tuncel, and Malatya Substitute Branch Executive Mr. Abuzer Yavas as well as of the ongoing detention of the last four.
According to the information received, since January 22, 2018, a number of IHD members were arrested and detained in reaction to postings on social media denouncing Turkey’s military incursion in Afrin, northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia (1).
On the evening of January 22, 2018, Ms. Nuray Çevirmen was detained at the anti-terror unit of Ankara Security Department and released on January 25, 2018. She is being investigated on charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation” and “instigating people to grudge and hostility”.
On the same day, Mr. Ahmet Adigüzel was detained at the anti-terror unit of Ardahan Security Department (north-eastern Turkey) before being formally placed in detention on January 24, 2018, in Ardahan T-Type Closed Prison on charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation”.
In addition, on January 24, 2018, Mr. Hayrettin Piskin was arrested in Çanakkale (north- western Turkey) and taken into custody in Çanakkale E-Type Prison pending trial on charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation”.
Charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation” are based on Article 220/8 of the Turkish Penal Code, which carries up to three years in prison or four and a half years, should the alleged crime be committed through the press or broadcasting.
Furthermore, on January 24, 2018, Messrs. Mehmet Tuncel, Ali Dağdelen and Abuzer Yavas were arrested and taken into custody, in Malatya (eastern Turkey). The three human rights defenders were initially detained over social media posts. However, as it was later revealed that Mr. Mehmet Tuncel has no social media account, police forces changed the accusation against Messrs. Mehmet Tuncel and Abuzer Yavas to “attending a funeral of an armed militant” which would date back to 2001.
Mr. Ali Dağdelen who remains under investigation on charges of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation” was released on January 26, 2018, while Messrs. Mehmet Tuncel and Abuzer Yavas were transferred to E Type Prison in Malatya.
The Observatory recalls that the series of arrests ordered against IHD activists began earlier in August, 2017, when Ms. Gülseren Yoleri, President of the IHD Istanbul Branch and IHD Executive Committee member, and Mr. Dogan Ozkan, member of IHD Istanbul executive board were arrested during another demonstration in support of Ms. Nuriye Gülmen and Mr. Semih Özakça, two teachers who have been victims of the wave of dismissals of civil servants which followed the 2016 failed coup in Turkey (2). Both were victims of ill-treatment during their arrest and three days detention.
In November 2017, Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, President of the national branch of the Human Rights Association, Ms. Sevim Salihoglu and Ms. Derya Uysal, two IHD Executive Committee members, as well as Ms. Besra Varli, IHD member, were arrested as they were demonstrating in support of Ms. Nuriye Gülmen and Mr. Semih Özakça in front of the Human Rights Statute in Yüksel Avenue, Ankara, and placed in custody before being released on the same day (3).
The Observatory strongly condemns this new wave of arbitrary arrests targeting human rights defenders, and in particular IHD members, in the exercise of their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities as well as the recurrent obstacles to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in Turkey.
Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Ahmet Adigüzel, Hayrettin Pişkin, Mehmet Tuncel and Abuzer Yavas and to put an end to all forms of harassment against them, Ms. Nuray Çevirmen and Mr. Ali Dağdelen as well as against all IHD members.
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nuray Çevirmen, Messrs. Ahmet Adigüzel, Hayrettin Pişkin, Mehmet Tuncel, Ali Dağdelen and Abuzer Yavas as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
- Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Ahmet Adigüzel, Hayrettin Pişkin, Mehmet Tuncel and Abuzer Yavas as well as all detained human rights defenders in Turkey;
- Put an end to all forms of harassment, against Ms. Nuray Çevirmen, Messrs. Ahmet Adigüzel, Hayrettin Pişkin, Mehmet Tuncel, Ali Dağdelen and Abuzer Yavas, as well as all IHD members and human rights defenders in Turkey;
- 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;
- Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.
- President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31
- Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım. Email: email@example.com
- Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30
- Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Unionin Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, February 1, 2018
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: +33143552518/+33143551880
• Tel and fax OMCT: +41228094939/+41228094929
1 – The military offensive began on January 20, 2018 and is directed at the Kurdish Autonomous Administration’s military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkish authorities have cited YPG’s links to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as the grounds for this military offensive.
2 – See the Observatory Urgent Appeal TUR 006 / 0817 / OBS 086 published on August 9, 2017.
3- See the Observatory Urgent Appeal TUR 007 / 1117 / OBS 111 published on November 9, 2017.