Stop Judicial Harassment against Human Rights Defenders!
22 March 2022
Exercise of a constitutional right is not a crime!
Stop judicial harassment against the Saturday Mothers!
The Saturday Mothers had been staging their peaceful vigils for 699 weeks against enforced disappearances that is a great shame, a virtual black hole for this country. Yet, the 700th vigil of the Saturday Mothers had been arbitrarily banned as the authorities claimed that the peaceful sit-ins constituted a criminal offense and 46 individuals, including relatives of the disappeared and executives and members of the Human Rights Association, had been taken into custody facing police brutality. The authorities did not confine themselves with this and brought criminal charges against these human rights defenders for allegedly violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations.
These criminal proceedings targeting the freedom of peaceful assembly of the Saturday Mothers are an attempt to criminalize a constitutional right and to coerce human rights defenders through judicial harassment. The fourth hearing of the trial pending before the İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance will be held at 13:30 at İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse. We invite everyone standing up for human rights, peace and democracy to both observe the hearing and to participate in the press conference to be held at 12:30 before Çağlayan Courthouse to say “Exercise of a constitutional right is not a crime!”
Stop judicial harassment against human rights defender Fırat Akdeniz!
Criminal proceedings for alleged membership in an illegal organization were brought against Fırat Akdeniz, a member of Enforced Disappearances and Political Murders by Unknown Assailants Commission at İHD’s local Diyarbakır Branch and Eğitim-Sen, for his exercise of freedom of association and taking part in peaceful assemblies held against human rights violations, 1 September World Peace Day, Kurdish language festivities; those against violence against women, arbitrary arrest of lawyers, hunger strikes by prisoners, lifting of HDP deputies’ parliamentary immunity, appointment of state trustees to HDP municipalities.
The fourth hearing of the trial pending before the Diyarbakır 11th Heavy Penal Court will be held on 23 March 2022 at 10:15. The court is expected to deliver its judgment as the prosecution presented its opinion for a conviction ruling. We invite everyone standing up for human rights, peace and democracy to observe the hearing and support Fırat Akdeniz.
Freedom to human rights defenders Atty. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Atty. Barkın Timtik and Atty. Oya Aslan!
The trial pending against 22 arrested lawyers, including Atty. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, chairperson of Progressive Lawyers’ Association (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği –ÇHD), Atty. Barkın Timtik and Atty. Oya Aslan, is also an attempt to criminalize and repress rights advocacy. The unacceptable charges against the lawyers were brought based on anonymous witnesses that appeared at the last minute as well as evidence presented by police intelligence officers who were subsequently convicted of membership in an illegal organization. The next hearing of this trial pending before the İstanbul 18th Heavy Penal Court will be held on 23 March 2022 at 10:30 in Silivri Closed Prison campus. We invite everyone standing up for human rights, peace and democracy to observe the hearing and support ÇHD lawyers.
Universal human rights law, which Turkey is a part of through the conventions, covenants and other documents that it undersigned, recognizes the protection of human rights defenders as an indispensable essence of a democratic society. According to the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, state parties have a responsibility and duty to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders against violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the declaration.
The situation in Turkey, however, is the exact opposite. Human rights defenders face severe harassment and pressures at all levels, most notably at the judicial one. Indeed, even only the above-listed trials are a concrete indicator of how the current legislation, primarily the Anti-Terrorism Code, has been instrumentalized to repress and silence human rights defenders for years. Such state of affairs also reveals the ways in which the freedoms of expression, assembly and association, which are indispensable for human rights defenders to carry on their peaceful advocacy activities, has been made unexercisable.
We, as human rights organizations, strongly condemn such repression of and harassment against human rights defenders.
We also urge the political power to immediately and without any conditions stop judicial harassment and all types of harassment.
Human Rights Association – Human Rights Foundation of Turkey