Tag Archives: Turkey Tribunal

Turkey: Ankara, lawyers on trial for criticizing the head of Religious Affairs

28/09/21

Ali Erbas

The Chair and Executive Board Members of the Ankara Bar Association are accused of the crime of “insult”. They risk up to two years in prison. Similar proceedings for Diyarbakır lawyers. In a Friday sermon Erdogan’s loyalist, Ali Erbaş,  had condemned LGTBI+ and HIV-positive people, calling them deviants.

Turkish authorities have indicted Chair and Executive Board Members of the Ankara Bar Association on charges of criticizing the (powerful) head of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş, who in a sermon had condemned LGTBI+ and HIV-positive people. If found guilty for the content of the open letter, the members of the association risk a sentence of up to two years in prison. 

The affair was triggered by a sermon given during Friday prayers by Ali Erbaş, a loyalist of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has based his power on the combination of nationalism and Islam, in which he stigmatized homosexuals, trans and HIV positive people. Homosexuality and adultery, he had said, “brings diseases and degenerates the generation.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people a year are exposed to the HIV virus caused by this great haram, which passes as adultery in the Islamic Literature. Let’s come and fight together to protect people from this kind of evil”.

In response, the leaders of the association have issued a statement in which they attacked the religious leader, accusing him of discriminating against a part of the population and of having remained “behind the centuries” with words that foment “hatred” from the height of a prestigious state office. In this document, the magistrates have identified the extremes for an indictment, putting in state of charge for “insult” promoters and signatories of the initiative. 

While the first hearing of the trial will be held at the Ankara 16th Heavy Penal Court on November 11, 2021, the executives of the Ankara Bar now face 1 year to 2 years in prison for allegedly “insulting a public official due to his or her duty for expressing beliefs, thoughts and opinions.”

[…]

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Ankara,-lawyers-on-trial-for-criticizing-the-head-of-Religious-Affairs-54157.html

https://bianet.org/english/lgbti/250950-ankara-bar-association-put-on-trial-for-criticizing-president-of-religious-affairs

https://www.dw.com/en/turkeys-diyanet-religious-body-threatens-secularism/a-59289180#:~:text=Ali%20Erbas%20heads%20Diyanet%2C%20Turkey’s,many%20more%20highly%20controversial%20statements.

https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/turkeys-top-islamic-cleric-moves-centre-stage-irking-secularists-2021-09-22/

https://m.bianet.org/5/147/250390-159-year-prison-sentence-for-lawyers-was-based-on-non-existent-evidence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Erba%C5%9F

https://bianet.org/1/150/250946-diyanet-isleri-baskani-ni-elestiren-ankara-barosu-na-dava (TURKCE)

https://www.ouest-france.fr/monde/turquie/turquie-ali-erbas-l-imam-de-choc-du-president-erdogan-15eef00c-161e-11ec-b71b-565657b89003 (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Erba%C5%9F

Who will defend the defenders in Turkey?

18/08/21

In today’s Turkey, lawyers themselves are being targeted—just for practicing their profession in accordance with the law.

Not long ago, international human rights scholars and experts considered Turkey a promising story of democratic transformation. But both human rights and those who defend them in Turkey are increasingly at risk today. Particularly since the 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has intensified restrictions with a controlled judiciary, systematically targeting those who stand up for democracy. Thousands of journalists, academics, lawyers, and government critics have lost their jobs, have been targeted by smear campaigns, or have been accused in court of terrorism-related crimes or insulting President Erdoğan.

The most vocal parts of civil society are being systematically suppressed in the country. This increases reliance on lawyers who can defend the rights of those who stand up for democracy. However, in today’s Turkey, lawyers themselves are being targeted—simply for practicing their profession in accordance with the law.

Even though the two-year state of emergency following the coup attempt ended in 2018, the country now finds itself in a so-called “normalized state of emergency rule.” This means that certain emergency decrees that should not have effect past the emergency period are still being used, or that after the emergency period ended, new laws were adopted, including the same provisions as those present in emergency decrees, thereby legitimizing the existence of restrictions imposed by the laws. In other words, emergency-like laws, which are not subject to the same checks and balances that a democracy has, are still used to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey. 

Since 2016, attacks on lawyers have become institutionalized and systematic. Lawyers are investigated, detained, and  no longer feel safe and free when defending their clients in court rooms or police stations. This means that lawyers are no longer able to practice their profession the way they are supposed to in a healthy democracy. 

[…]

https://www.openglobalrights.org/who-will-defend-the-defenders-in-turkey/index.cfm

Turkey: Constitutional Court judgment exposes police torture against lawyer Gürsu Avcı

12/08/21

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The Turkish Constitutional Court established that Turkish lawyer Gürsu Avcı was tortured in a police station where he went to provide legal counsel with three suspects. (Gürsu Avcı, B. No: 2017/20159, 13/4/2021)

On 19.07.2016, Mr Avcı, who was assigned by İstanbul Bar Association to provide legal counsel with three suspects, arrived at the police headquarters in Gaziosmanpasa, Istanbul to visit his clients. He produced his lawyer’s ID card and asked to be let to see his clients. However, he was unlawfully denied entry. He then said he wanted to be present in the medical examination of his clients which was unusually to take place in the office of the police chief for some security concerns. Then he had to shout his advice to his clients who were being taken for examination that they had to show their injuries to the doctors when being examined. Angered by Mr Avcı’s efforts to reach out to his clients, police officer, identified only as M.S, started to swear at him before forcibly taking him to an empty room which was being used as a kitchen and physically assaulted him with the help of some other police officers and handcuffed Mr Avcı behind his back.

His clients confirmed the altercation and said that they saw Mr Avcı being taken away and heard him scream in pain. The security camera recordings showed him being led into a room where there were no security cameras.

As a result, Mr Avcı sustained bruises to his arms, legs and neck and bleeding in the nose which was confirmed in a doctor’s report.

[…]

According to a report by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, since 2016’s coup attempt there is a relentless against lawyers in Turkey. The report established that more than 1600 lawyers have been arrested and prosecuted while 615 lawyers have been remanded to pretrial detention. So far, 450 lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 2786 years in prison on the grounds of membership of an armed terrorism organization or of spreading terrorist propaganda. 

https://arrestedlawyers.org/2021/08/12/constitutional-court-judgment-exposes-the-police-torture-against-turkish-lawyer-gursu-avci/

https://turkeytribunal.com/

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Turkey: 48 bar associations condemn pro-government newspaper for targeting colleagues protesting hate crimes against Kurds

27/07/21

Forty-eight Turkish bar associations on Sunday condemned the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily for targeting 15 bar associations that have protested hate crimes against Kurdish citizens in Turkey.

The statement said bar associations had the duty to uphold democratic principles and stand against hate speech and crimes. It added that Yeni Şafak had not only targeted the bar associations in question but also used discriminatory and hateful language in its piece.

According to the statement the crimes against Kurds were not sporadic incidents but the result of mounting tension against minorities. Nihat Eren of the Diyarbakır Bar Association said the discriminatory language used by the media has also been adding fuel to the fire. “I condemn media outlets that are trying to downplay hate crimes and hate speech,” he added.

The 48 bar associations had recently condemned a series of hate crimes against Kurds in various Turkish cities. In its July 23 edition Yeni Şafak called the associations “Barons of Qandil,” implying that the associations were working for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Yeni Şafak said the attacks on Kurds were not hate crimes but “ordinary disputes and disagreements” and that the bar associations were causing ethnic clashes with their statements.

[…]

Turkey: TALI/TUHRAP makes its first submission to UK Foreign Office

23/05/21

2021 ACTIVITIES TUHRAP

May 18, 2021 / Turkey Human Rights Accountability Projects makes its first submission to UK Foreign Office to have notable abusers of human rights in Turkey placed on the United  Kingdom’s sanction list.

Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project (TUHRAP) made its first submission to the UK Foreign Office, to have notable abusers of human rights in Turkey placed on the United Kingdom’s sanction list. The submissions were made in the framework of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act) under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, the UK’s Magnitsky Act. 

Prepared by prominent barristers Kevin Dent QC and Michael Polak, the submission contains evidence files of three well documented torture cases from Turkey.

Kevin Dent QC:

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“It is hoped the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office engage positively with the submission in accordance with its aim of deterring gross abuses of human rights. This submission seeks to play its part in establishing the new UK system of designations which, if applied evenly and fairly, could play an important role in the development effective mechanisms for deterring abuses of human rights worldwide.”

Michael Polak:

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The evidence we have considered in drafting our submissions is shocking in that it shows that torture is inflicted upon individuals of all different backgrounds in Police stations in Turkey.  From the threats and mistreatment applied to a lawyer for simply doing his job, to the mass arrest and use of extreme degrading treatment including electrocution against a whole village, and the death of a schoolteacher after 13 days of intense torture it is clear that those who exercise power over detainees operate in an environment of impunity. We hope that the Foreign Minister will apply the Global Human Rights Sanctions to address this impunity and to prevent such horrific events from continuing to take place.

The cases are the 2019 Halfeti detentions case, where numerous Kurdish civilians were subjected to systematic torture including beating, sexual abuse and electrocution; the torture and unlawful killing of a teacher under arrest in 2016, who was acquitted of all charges against him posthumously; and the torture of a lawyer in 2019 who was explicitly informed by those administering the physical and psychological assaults on him that the motivation for these was because his, sometimes high profile, clients were not confessing and choosing to remain silent. All three files are supported by medical reports, reports by bar associations and audio-visual content.

[…]

https://arrestedlawyers.org/2021/05/23/tali-tuhrap-makes-its-first-submission-to-uk-foreign-office/

https://agilitypr.news/Turkey-Human-Rights-Accountability-Proje-19807

https://arrestedlawyers.org/turkey-human-rights-accountability-project/

Turkey: In remembrance of Turkey’s killed judges and lawyers

13/03/21

Yargı

On March 10, the Turkey Tribunal organised a webinar to discuss the state of judicial independence and access to justice in Turkey. The webinar was like a summit of worldwide renown figures in the area of judiciary. Among them were Diego Garcia Sayan, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Jose Igreja Matos, president of European Association of Judges, and Filipe Marques, president of European Judges for Democracy and Liberty (MEDEL).

The webinar was based on a new report on  “Judicial Independence and Access to Justice in Turkey.” The report shares facts, especially actions by public authorities, which have occurred in Turkey since 2010 as they relate to the role of the Turkish judiciary, with a special focus on the dramatic decline in the independence of the judiciary after the failed coup attempt of July 2016. 

Leaving the content of the report and what was said by these most prominent and competent voices to the next article, I want to share my views as a witness in this webinar. This witness statement is a humble attempt to shake the EU’s and Council of Europe’s comfort in ignorance towards the catastrophe unfolding in Turkey. 

In this testimony, I attempt to share the feeling of waking up to a Kafkaesque dystopia. This is exactly what I mean by saying “I went to bed a judge, and woke up a terrorist”. Indeed, this was exactly what happened to me and thousands of other colleagues in the wake of the failed putsch.

Since there are incredibly sad stories I witnessed among my fellow colleagues, I preferred to share some of those stories instead of mine. Because I managed to buy the freedom of myself and my children by paying $ 40,000 to smugglers, and have the luxury to speak up. 

This luxury, in my view, brings along the responsibility to voice the illegalities and persecutions to silence each and every dissident in Turkey, not only among my persecuted colleagues, but also among all segments of society, including Kurds, Gülenists, democrats, leftists, LGBT community members, religious and ethnic minorities, etc. 

However, to comply with the context of the report and the webinar, I had to focus on remembering the judges and lawyers who died in prison, on their way to flee to become a refugee, or on hunger strikes after 2016. 

Among the judges who were found dead in their solitary confinement cells were Teoman Gökçe and Seyfettin Yiğit. Maybe, we will never be able to learn how they really died. Mehmet Tosun was another judge who died in a hospital after being released from a long-lasting imprisonment.

[…]

https://ahvalnews.com/judges/remembrance-turkeys-killed-judges-and-lawyers

https://turkeytribunal.com/

https://arrestedlawyers.org/

Click to access EN_HRL_20210226_Turkey_Sentencing-of-lawyer-Eren-Keskin.pdf

Turkey: Turkey’s bar associations sceptical of judicial reform

24/11/20

Turkey issues detention warrants for 101 people on alleged terrorism links  - IPA NEWS

Chairmen of three major bar associations in Turkey, the Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakır bars, called for judicial independence and said the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) must be restructured, in interviews with news website Bianet on Tuesday.

What needs reforming is not the law, but the mentality in law enforcement, Ankara Bar Association Chairman Erinç Sağkan said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a Judicial Reform Strategy Document in May last year, and parliament has passed three sets of bills since.

“But we have seen that judicial reform isn’t possible via legal amendments,” Sağkan said. “The necessary reform in mentality will come with making the judiciary independent.”

Sağkan criticised education quality in Turkey’s 120 law faculties, and proposed changes to the selection process for judges and prosecutors.

Among his suggestions were prioritising competence over references, and taping all interviews where a bar representative should be present.

Lawyers must be able to remain independent, and not face prosecution for taking on any client or be associated with any possible crime they may have committed, Sağkan said.

“Without such amendments, reiterating universal judicial principles like arrests being the last resort will not serve as judicial reform,” he added, criticising both Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül’s recent comments and what he called the politicisation of bar associations with the multiple bar law that Turkey passed this summer.

[…]

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-justice/turkeys-bar-associations-sceptical-judicial-reform

https://bianet.org/english/law/234927-judicial-independence-is-a-prerequisite-for-judicial-reform

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/07/reform-bar-associations-turkey-questions-and-answers

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-lawyers-idUSKCN24C08L

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Bars_Association#:~:text=The%20Turkish%20Bars%20Association%20(correctly,it%20is%20headquartered%20in%20Ankara.

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20201126-hundreds-face-life-in-prison-in-trial-over-turkey-s-2016-coup

Turkey: Former Judge Stuart Russell calls upon YOU to “Speak Up For Human Rights!”

24/11/20

Stuart Russell speaks up for #humanrights | #SpeakUpForHumanRights#HumanRights abuses are happening every day in #Turkey. Here are a few of those who speak up against these violations: Stuart Russell, as a former judge and active human rights activist, defends the rights of lawyers around the world. He encourages everyone to #SpeakUpForHumanRights. If you are victim of or witness to torture, enforced disappearance, abduction in Turkey, share your story with us. Speak up! Make your voice heard! So we can raise awareness about these abuses, help end them. Send your story to speakup@turkeytribunal.com by email. https://turkeytribunal.com/meltem-oktay-speaks-up-for-humanrights-speakupforhumanrights-insanhaklariadinasesver/

Turkiye’de hergun insan haklari ihlalleri yasaniyor. Iste bu ihlallere karsi ses verenlerden bazilari: Eski bir hakim ve aktif bir insan haklari savunucusu olarak, Stuart Russell dunyanin farkli yerlerindeki avukatlarin haklarini savunuyor. O da #InsanHaklariAdinaSesVer cagrimiza destek verenlerden. Eğer sen de Türkiye’de işkence, kötü muamele, zorla kaybetme ya da alıkoyma mağduru yahut benzer bir insan hakları ihlali tanığı veya mağduru isen, hikayeni bizimle paylaş… Ses ver! Sesini duyur! Ve boylelikle bizler de bu hukuksuzluklar ve ihlaller hakkinda farkindalik olusturalim. speakup@turkyetribunal.com adresine hikayeni ulastir. Turkiye Tribunal Mahkemesi yapacagi yargilama ve alacagi kararla yasadigin magduriyetlerin duyurulmasina ve durdurulmasina katki saglayacaktir. Devami yakinda… https://turkeytribunal.com/tr/ses-verenler/

Former Judge Stuart Russell calls upon YOU to “Speak Up For Human Rights!”

Russell is the co-chair of IAPL Monitoring Committee on attacks on lawyers. He talks about the pressure on the judiciary, and the arbitrariness in the mass arrest of lawyers in #Turkey.

Turkey Tribunal 🇹🇷⚖️

Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8Y2WOqR9sA

Turkey Tribunal Facebook, 24/11/20