Threats against İHD Co-Chairperson Eren Keskin
17 June 2020
Human Rights Association’s Co-Chairperson Ms Eren Keskin’s residence in İstanbul, Turkey was broken into on 16 June 2020 under the guise of common burglary; her belongings in the residence were thrown about, yet it was seen that nothing was taken. The incident was reported to the local police station and a team from the station conducted crime scene investigation. The police are also analyzing the CCTV footage about the incident. The initial findings of the investigation reveal that the person or persons who broke into Ms Keskin’s residence, where she has not been residing for some time now following the demise of her mother, took a ring from its original site and replaced it on the table in her living room in an apparent attempt to convey a message.
It is our strong conviction that the incident is not an ordinary breaking and entering incident but one that directly targets Ms Keskin to threaten and intimidate her as was revealed by the initial findings at the crime scene.
The recipient of prestigious human rights awards, Ms Keskin is a well-respected human rights defender and attorney both in Turkey and abroad. Ms Keskin is an outspoken human rights defender known for her frank and fearless statements. She, therefore, faces numerous investigations and lawsuits in Turkey that qualify as “judicial harassment.” It now seems that some unknown subjects thinking that judicial harassment was insufficient have taken a further step amounting to physical threat.
İHD invites the authorities to conduct the necessary inquiry and investigation into this incident and identify the perpetrator(s) as soon as possible underlining the fact that it should not be handled as a simple case but one that calls for a multidimensional, effective and swift investigation by the Interior Ministry and İstanbul police department.
Clarifying this incident is Turkey’s essential duty originating in international law. According to the Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders drafted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which Turkey is a member, “State institutions and officials must refrain from any acts of intimidation or reprisals by threats, damage and destruction of property, physical attacks, torture and other ill-treatment, killing, enforced disappearance or other physical or psychological harm targeting human rights defenders and their families” (para. 12, emphasis added).
The same guideline’s rule on impunity also states the following: “All allegations of such acts must be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated in a transparent manner. The existence of independent and effective oversight mechanisms to investigate complaints about abuses by police and other state officials and their accessibility to human rights defenders are an essential element in this regard” (para. 13, emphasis added).
İHD will be lodging all the necessary applications before the relevant domestic and international bodies and closely follow up the steps taken. İHD would like to remind the political power of its responsibility to protect human rights defenders in Turkey along with the fact the government will directly be held responsible for any negative development that might occur.
İHD also calls on the democratic public: Eren Keskin is the conscience of all of us. Any threat against her, therefore, is directed at everyone who defends democracy and human rights in Turkey.
Human rights defenders will uncompromisingly persevere in their fight for human rights and democracy in these challenging times during which Turkey drifts further into authoritarianism.
Human Rights Association