The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme between the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has urged Turkey to release jailed human rights defenders in the country. The Observatory urges Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these people and put an end to all forms of harassment against them, read a statement released by the Observatory on Saturday.
Acting on an anonymous tip Turkish police raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul on July 5, 2017, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International, İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmus Özbekli, Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association and two foreign trainers, Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner.
After interrogation at the anti-terror branch of the İstanbul Police Department, on July 17, the 12th day of their detention, the 10 human rights defenders, who are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, were referred to the İstanbul Courthouse. Six of the activists were subsequently arrested, while the court decided to release four of them on judicial probation. On July 21 İstanbul’s Adalar Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for the four human rights defenders, including Taştan and Özbekli, who were released by the court.
His book was just reviewed in the New York Review of Books, and he was recently quoted extensively in a New York Times Magazine article on the lawyers representing China’s dissidents, but for Sida Liu the latest interest in China’s human rights abuses is not surprising.
He says his book, Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work, co-written by Terence Charles Halliday, began receiving media attention even before the book was out in print.
“The irony, however, is that much of it was owing to the plight of Chinese criminal defence lawyers in recent years,” he says. “It was painful for me to see our book getting good reviews while some of our informants suffered in the criminal process.”
Liu, who officially joined U of T Mississauga’s sociology department in 2016 as an assistant professor, spent last year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., for an academic sabbatical. When classes resume in the fall, students will finally get a chance to attend his lectures and learn about what’s unfolding in China today.
Incommunicado since 2015
Lawyer Wang Quanzhang lost contact with friends and family in July 2015.
Please ask the Chinese authorities to:
1. Immediately stop all unwarranted interference into Wang Quanzhang and or his family members including his wife Li Wenzu’s appointment of lawyers of choice.
2. Immediately arrange for Wang’s family-appointed lawyers to meet Wang Quanzhang. Even if he has dismissed his lawyers, as the authorities have claimed, arrangements should be made immediately for his lawyers to confirm his wish in person.
In the case of Wang, the meeting is significant not only to fulfil his right of access to legal representation but also to clarify his status of well-being.
3. Wang Quanzhang should be released unless and until solid and legally admissible evidence sufficiently exists to accuse lawyer Wang Quanzhang of having committed a cognizable offence and in a criminalization process consistent with international human rights law.
4. Should Wang be indicted, a trial consistent with the international human rights law standard as fair and open should be arranged without undue delay.
Twelve suspected PKK terrorists were arrested in Istanbul on Friday in an operation to prevent imminent attacks, a police official said.
Among those arrested in raids across 11 districts of the city were a group that had received training in camps in Europe and were planning terror atrocities, the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The arrests came ahead of the Aug. 15 anniversary of the PKK’s first terror attacks in 1984.
Others arrested are thought to be PKK terrorists from the eastern provinces of Bingol and Tunceli who were hiding out in Istanbul, the police source said.
The leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Antalya province branch, Songul Sarkli and Ihsan Nergis, and two lawyers were among those arrested.
Following a fragile peace deal, the PKK resumed its armed campaign in July 2015. Since then, more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians have been killed.
On 2 August 2017, human rights lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri was informed of charges pressed against her for allegedly submitting a false report to the police under Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. In total, Sirikan Charoensiri is currently facing three different legal proceedings, all linked to her work as a human rights lawyer, and which could carry up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Sirikan Charoensiri is a human rights lawyer who works with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), where she provides legal services in high-profile human rights cases on a pro bono basis. She is one of the legal representatives of the 14 student activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM), who were arrested on 26 June 2015 after staging peaceful protests to mark the first anniversary of the military coup, which took place in May 2014. In April 2017, she was the first woman to receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award from the eponymous Dutch civil society group.
On 2 August 2017, Sirikan Charoensiri reported to the Chanasongkram police station in Bangkok and was informed that she was charged with allegedly submitting a false report to the police in violation of Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. These charges, which Sirikan Charoensiri denies, were filed against her after she submitted a complaint of malfeasance in office against the Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau 6, and other police officers for illegally impounding her car on 27 June 2015. On that day, police seized Sirikan Charoensiri’s vehicle without a warrant in order to confiscate the mobile phones of the members of the New Democracy Movement, which were in the car. The defender declared that she would submit a written statement before 30 September 2017. The charges carry a penalty of up to 5 years in jail.
Earlier that day, the public prosecutor of Dusit District Prosecutor Office rescheduled the reading of the indictment decision in a separate case against Sirikan Charoensiri. The hearing was postponed to 20 November 2017 at 09:30. A case file was registered against the human rights lawyer in May 2016 under Sections 142 and 368 of the Thai Criminal Code for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with official orders, respectively.
With the rise of the 1988 Justice-Seeking Movement, Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani was forced to dismiss his Justice Minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi from his cabinet.
Pour Mohammadi was part of the 1988 Death Committee and one of the main perpetrators of the massacre, which ended in 30,000 political prisoners being executed.
Yet, despite Rouhani dismissing Pour Mohammadi, it is clear that the thinking of the regime has not truly changed. This dismissal was simply window-dressing, whitewashing over the issue of the massacre altogether.
Political prisoners are being suppressed and those who are attempting to defend their right to speak out and peacefully protest are also being repressed. Human rights defenders have been sentenced to long prison terms, often on vague charges of being national security risks.
The proceedings where the sentencing takes place are often brief, barely following any type of legal international precedent for a fair trial. Anti-death campaigners Atena Daemi and Omid Alishenas were sentenced to 14 and 10 years’ imprisonment respectively, after a trial in March 2015 that lasted around 45 minutes. On appeal, their sentences were reduced to seven years each.
Human rights lawyers who speak out on behalf of these individuals, particularly the torture and unfair trials, are also facing relentless harassment, disbarment, and imprisonment. Demanding answers from the Iranian regime, especially accountability for these human rights violations, comes with real life costs for those determined to find justice.
More than six months after the midday assassination at the Yangon International Airport, Aung Win Khaing—one of the main suspects in National League for Democracy (NLD) legal adviser U Ko Ni’s killing—is still at large, with police staying silent about progress in their search for him.
According to a Yangon Region Police Force press conference on Feb. 25, Aung Win Khaing was last seen near the National Herbal Park in administrative capital Naypyitaw.
U Ko Ni was fatally shot at close range outside the airport upon his return from an official trip abroad on Jan. 29. Police have since arrested four conspirators—Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Htun, Zeyar Phyo and the gunman Kyi Linn.
The Myanmar Police Force issued an arrest warrant for Aung Win Khaing and sent his photos to Asean police forces and Interpol. But the whereabouts of the wanted man remain unknown.
“A witness testified that Aung Win Khaing was seen at an office in Naypyitaw two days before police searched it on Feb. 12. But the police didn’t testify to that. So, I asked the court to interrogate all of the witnesses, but the court rejected my request,” lawyer U Nay La, who is representing U Ko Ni’s family, told The Irrawaddy.
Police searched the National Herbal Park months ago, but to no avail. Though police have suggested that Aung Win Khaing is still in the country, they have not publicly revealed progress in their search for him.