Arbitrary Arrest and Subsequent Release of İHD Turkey President Mr. Öztürk Türkdoğan, and three İHD Executives and Members – THE OBSERVATORY

TUR 007 / 1117 / OBS 111
Arbitrary arrest /
November 9, 2017


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 subsequent release of Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, President of the national branch of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Haklari Derneği – İHD), Ms. Sevim Salihoglu and Ms. Derya Uysal, two IHD Executive Committee members, as well as of Ms. Besra Varlı, İHD member.

According to the information received, on November 9, 2017, Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, Ms. Sevim Salihoglu, Ms. Derya Uysal and Ms. Besra Varlı were arrested as they were demonstrating in front of the Human Rights Statue in Yüksel Avenue, Ankara. The four human rights defenders were taken to Çankaya Police Station in Ankara and subsequently released. The four would be accused of violating the law 2911 on demonstration and marches.

The demonstration was held 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. They are known for their struggle denouncing the mass layoffs initiated by the Turkish authorities after the coup and have been in a hunger strike for more than 150 days.

The demonstration also called for the reopening to the public of the space in front of Human Rights Statue in Ankara. The Human Rights Statue is a popular place for demonstration and a symbol of Turkish people’s struggle against repression; its access is currently closed by Turkish authorities.

The Observatory recalls that earlier in August 2017, 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[1]. Both were allegedly victims of ill-treatment during their arrest and arbitrary detention.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concerns over this new wave of arbitrary arrests targeting human rights defenders for the exercise of their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities and increasing restrictions to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in Turkey.

Since the 2016 failed coup, Turkish authorities have especially targeted human rights defenders and other critical voices by means of arbitrary arrests, detentions, investigations and prosecutions on often spurious charges. Allegations of ill-treatment and torture during arrest and detention have also been brought.   Although purportedly aimed at combating terrorism and seeking accountability for the attempted coup, these actions have disproportionately affected human rights defenders and seriously hindered their work and restricted civic space. They run contrary to Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law and must be severely condemned.

Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, Ms. Sevim Salihoglu, Ms. Derya Uysal and Ms. Besra Varlı.

Actions requested:

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

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, Ms. Sevim Salihoglu, Ms. Derya Uysal and Ms. Besra Varlı as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
  2. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Ozturk Turkdogan, Ms. Sevim Salihoglu, Ms. Derya Uysal and Ms. Besra Varlı, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;
  3. 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;
  4. 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, Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82 Email:
  •                 Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail:
  •                 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:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.


Paris-Geneva, November 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 , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail:
  • 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] See the Observatory Urgent Appeal TUR 006 / 0817 / OBS 086 published on August 9, 2017.