URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY
TUR 007 / 0620 / OBS 073
Arbitrary detention /
June 30, 2020
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Mses. Rojda Barış, Executive of Rosa Women’s Association, Ayten Tekeş, member of the general assembly of the Confederation of Public Sector Employees Unions, Makbule Özbek, member of Diyarbakır Peace Mothers’ Assembly, Arin Zümrüt, board member of Diyarbakır branch Chamber of Mechanical Engineers, and Jiyan Taş , member of Rosa Women’s Association, as well as the judicial harassment against Ms. Ayşe Kara, journalist and member of Free Women’s Movement (TJA – Tevgera Jinen Azad) and Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş, member of Diyarbakır Medical Association, Azad Can, member of the Turkish Medical Association’s student branch, and Berdan Acun, lawyer and board member of Jurists for Freedom.
According to the information received, on June 26, 2020, 45 people, including Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş, Arin Zümrüt, Makbule Özbek and Jiyan Taş and Messrs. Berdan Acun, Ferhat Erkuş and Azad Can, as well as municipal council members, mayors and executives from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were taken into police custody in Diyarbakir within the scope of an investigation launched by the Prosecutors’ Office in Diyarbakır. This investigation is based on information and documents obtained during the raid of the Democratic Society Congress  in October 2018. Initially, arrest warrants had been issued for 64 people, but as of issuing this urgent appeal, only 45 of them had been executed.
On June 28, 2020, the Prosecutor requested the detention of 14 people arrested and the release of two under judicial control.
On the same day, the court ruled for the detention of eight of them, including Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş and Arin Zümrüt, under accusations of “membership to a terrorist organisation”. The other eight, including Mr. Berdan Acun, were released under judicial control.
On June 29, 2020, the remaining 29 were referred to various Peace Judgeships in Diyarbakir and the Prosecutor requested the release of nine under judicial control, including Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş and Azad Can, and the detention of 20, including Mses. Jiyan Taş, Ayşe Kara and 70-year-old Makbule Özbek. The judges confirmed the release of nine under judicial control, including for Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş and Azad Can. Concerning the other 20, whose detention was requested, 15 were detained on the accusation of “membership to a terrorist organisation”, including Mses. Jiyan Taş and Makbule Özbek, and five were released under judicial control by judges’ decisions, including Ms. Ayşe Kara. The detained are being held in Diyarbakır Female Prison and Diyarbakır Type D Male Prison.
During their interrogation at the Anti-Terror Branch in Diyarbakır and at the courts, the above mentioned human rights defenders were questioned about their participations in press statements, events and assemblies, including the women’s gathering on March 8, 2020 and events against gender based violence. They were not questioned by the Prosecutor although the Prosecutor had requested the detention of some. The investigation against all 45 by the Prosecutors’ Office is still pending, and a decision whether to press official charges or not, will be made in the upcoming period. The details of the investigation remain undisclosed as there is a restraining order on the case.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention of Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş, Makbule Özbek, Arin Zümrüt, and Jiyan Taş, as well as the judicial harassment of Ms. Ayşe Kara and Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş, Azad Can and Berdan Acun, as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for exercising their legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the Turkish authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and against all human rights defenders in Turkey.
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş, Makbule Özbek, Arin Zümrüt, Jiyan Taş and Ayşe Kara and Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş, Azad Can and Berdan Acun and all other human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş,Makbule Özbek,Arin Zümrüt and Jiyan Taş and all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Turkey as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mses. Rojda Barış, Ayten Tekeş, Makbule Özbek, Arin Zümrüt Jiyan Taş and Ayşe Kara and Messrs. Ferhat Erkuş, Azad Can and Berdan Acun and against all human rights defenders in Turkey;
iv. 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;
v. 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 the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: +90 (312) 525 58 31. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül. Email: email@example.com. Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70
- Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, June 30, 2020
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 the World Organisation Against Torture (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.