Press Statement for Immediate Release: Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s Public Statements

The public statements by the current Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu both before and after the June 24 elections are not acceptable in any way. Soylu assumes that he can threaten and target everyone knowing that he is the Interior Minister and is backed by the power of the Ministry. Furthermore, he can defiantly defend his unacceptable statements.

This attitude of Süleyman Soylu has been embraced by his Party and Government as they have not criticized him by this time. Therefore, we believe that we are face to face with a governmental policy in the person of Süleyman Soylu.

We can summarize Süleyman Soylu’s long-established statements, each of which constitutes an individual criminal offence, as such:

  1. He made a public statement on January 3, 2018 at an anti-drug meeting in Ankara saying that suspected individuals’ legs should be broken and police officers who did not act so would be considered to be not duly performing their duties. Having made such a statement, the Minister has committed the crime “incitement to commit a crime” regulated under Article 214 of the Turkish Penal Code. Breaking the legs of individuals who are captured as suspects within the scope of anti-terror or anti-drug operations, as the Minister has declared, is a torture crime defined by Article 94 of the TPC. It also constitutes the offence of causing another person injury as per Article 86 of the TPC. [1]
  2. A booklet entitled “The Unending Scenario of a Terrorist Organization” was published and made internationally available during his office as Minister; this booklet put forward a definitive conviction that Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who were dismissed by presidential decrees during the State of Emergency, were terrorists in spite of the fact that they were still on trial. At the end of the trial Semih Özakça was acquitted, while the imprisonment sentence passed for Nuriye Gülmen is still under appellate review at the Court of Appeals.
  3. The Minister pointed individuals and institutions as targets through his statements he made following a fight which started on June 14, 2018 in Suruç, Şanlıurfa and escalated to an armed conflict during AKP MP İbrahim Halil Yıldız and his relatives’ visit to shopkeepers. 1 person died and many others were wounded as a result of the incidents. 2 individuals among those who were hospitalized were violently executed by armed people. 1 other person was lynched and he died at another hospital. He targeted NGOs like the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Association (İHD), and Diyarbakır Medical Association, which wanted to conduct on-site examinations in order to reveal what happened, and claimed that they had connections with terrorist organizations. The relatives and supporters of the AKP MP who carried out the execution and lynching acts have neither been detained nor arrested yet. [2]
  4. He claimed that the former Co-Chairperson of HDP and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, who is still in prison and for whom no verdict has been passed by courts, was a terrorist and directed threatening statements against the followers of CHP in order to prevent HDP from passing the election threshold by saying “You should know that the votes that you carry over to HDP will be called to account by this innocent people both in this world and the other.” [3] HDP, which Soylu directed accusations against, carries on its activities as a legal political party.
  5. He called and threatened HDP Co-Chairperson Pervin Buldan following the execution of M.B. by unidentified perpetrators in Yangınyurt village in Doğubeyazıt, Ağrı after the elections. [4] This proves to be a first in the political history of Turkey.
  6. He gave instructions to prevent CHP representatives from attending martyr funerals and, unable to slow down, threatened CHP representatives as well. [5]

If an Interior Minister perpetually talks like the leader of a crime syndicate, threatens people, commits crimes, and if no results can be obtained from the criminal complaints filed against this person, no one has safety of life and property and the right to benefit from the rule of law in Turkey anymore. It is not possible to talk about justice in Turkey if public prosecutors’ offices have directly become the protectors of such individuals.

The fact that the President is a mere spectator now by not commenting on this issue also renders the situation even more grave.

What to do in this situation?

As human rights defenders, we will defend human rights and freedoms, including our own, at any price.

As İHD we defend such rights as the universality, indivisibility, holism, interrelatedness, and irreplaceability of human rights.

Based on the fact that human rights and freedoms are not domestic issues of any country, we would like to invite the international community to take into account these statements and practices of the Interior Minister and his organization.

Human Rights Association