Turkey: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the arrest and detention of lawyers Günal Kurşun, Nalan Erkem, trainee lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli and others

August 2, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

Günal Kurşun is a lawyer, academic and activist with Amnesty International Turkey.  He also works for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout Turkey.  According to reports, he was the first Turkish lawyer working on the International Criminal Court in Turkey.  Until recently, he was a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Başkent University in Ankara.

Nalan Erkem is a lawyer with the Citizen’s Assembly, an organization that promotes peace democracy and civil society through Europe. She is a campaigner against torture and violence against women.  According to reports, Nalan Erkem was also a member of the board of directors of the Izmir Bar Association from 2002-2004.

Şeyhmuz Özbekli works with the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly.  He is a newly qualified lawyer who has been actively involved in human rights for the last four years.  According to reports, he is a member of the Rights Initiative and works in the Human Rights Unit of the Diyarbakir Bar Association.

It is the Law Society’s understanding that on July 5, 2017, Günal Kurşun, Nalan Erkem and Şeyhmuz Özbekli were arrested along with human rights defenders Idil Eser (Director of Amnesty International Turkey), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association) Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer), İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition) and Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association).  The arrests took place during a digital security and information management workshop that had been organized by the Citizens Assembly in Istanbul.

Reports indicate that for at least 24 hours, the lawyers and other human rights defenders were not provided with access to their lawyers and family members.

On July 10, 2017 and July 11, 2017, the lawyers and human rights defenders’ houses were raided and searched by the police. Police seized electronic equipment.  No search warrants were provided to the lawyers of the detained defenders.  Additionally, some of the searches took place without the presence of lawyers.

On July 18, 2017, the lawyers and other human rights defenders were charged with “committing a crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.”  According to reports, “neither the Prosecutor nor the Judge have referred to any specific organisation nor to any criminal provision.  Moreover, the investigation remains confidential and lawyers cannot access their clients’ files.”




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