IHD Call for the Immediate Release of Turgut Tarhanlı, Betül Tanbay, Çiğdem Mater and Anadolu Kültür Staff

In the early hours of the morning on 16 November 2018, the Dean of Bilgi University’s Law School Prof. Dr. Turgut Tarhanlı, Prof. Dr. Betül Tanbay of Boğaziçi University, producer and author Çiğdem Mater, and Anadolu Kültür Association staff were taken into custody following raids into their homes. No information could be obtained earlier other than the investigation file was dated back to 2014 but now the content of the investigation is revealed through the information note issued by the Istanbul Police Department.


As is known, many investigations had been launched and lawsuits had been filed with regards to widespread protests that had started on 31 May 2013 and lasted for several months as a reaction to the cutting off of trees at Gezi Park, Istanbul. A majority of these investigations and lawsuits had been launched as per Law No. 2911 and resisting the police. A vast majority of such lawsuits lodged against the protesters had been finalized with the acquittal of the accused, while applications had been filed before the Constitutional Court in cases where the accused had been sentenced. IHD reminds all the concerned of the fact that the Constitutional Court held that sentencing such protesters was unlawful in its rulings of 18.04.2018 in application no. 2014/10626 and of 19.04.2018 in application no. 2014/17391.


It is rather ironic to attempt to come up with an offense of attempting to overthrow the government five years after the Gezi Park protests. The authorities conducting the investigation should not expect the public to buy this allegation. Accusing other innocent people in order to simply incriminate Osman Kavala is utterly unlawful; this kind of conduct should be put to an end. IHD also underlines that this new move of the public prosecutor’s office, which has not been able to put together an indictment against Osman Kavala for a year, will surely be sentenced by the democratic public’s conscience.


In the light of the fact that the detainees are human rights defenders, IHD condemns the detention of Prof. Dr. Turgut Tarhanlı, a prominent human rights defender who has long been engaged in the struggle for rule of law and educated many a legal expert, and other individuals.


IHD reiterates that the practice within which public prosecutors order the detention of individuals well-respected by the society in order to criminalize them as if they were dangerous criminals instead of implementing the call procedure to summon them to collect their testimonies under Article 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is unlawful and it should be stopped. This treatment towards Prof. Tarhanlı and other detainees constitutes yet another example of the arbitrary implementation of law in Turkey and the ways in which the political power can treat anyone in the way it desires through judicial harassment.


IHD, therefore, invites the political power to relinquish such repressive methods and demands the immediate release of the detainees.