Tag Archives: Turkey

Turkey: Relatives, lawyers among those detained during protest by Saturday Mothers

21/09/22

Turkish police on Wednesday broke up a protest held by the Saturday Mothers, a group of activists and family members seeking the whereabouts of loved ones who disappeared while in police custody in Turkey in the 1990s, and detained some relatives of the victims as well as their lawyers, Turkish Minute reported.

The Saturday Mothers, who first gathered on May 27, 1995 in Galatasaray Square on İstanbul’s İstiklal Street and have continued meeting there every Saturday for a silent protest since then, has staged the longest-running protest Turkey has ever witnessed.

The vigils, which saw the participation of larger numbers of people on landmark dates such as the 500th and 600th week, had been held peacefully without any restrictions by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government until the 700th week in 2018, when dozens of protestors were detained after police used force to break up the protest. Some of the protestors were later indicted.

Wednesday’s protest took place in front of the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan ahead of the fifth hearing of a trial of 46 people who are charged with “refusal to disperse despite warning and use of force” under Article 32/1 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations during the 700th weekly vigil of the Saturday Mothers.

According to Gazete Duvar, the protestors wanted to read out a statement, but the police intervened to prevent it and detained some relatives of the victims as well as their lawyers. Alper Taş, party council member of the SOL (Left) Party, in addition to Broadcasting and Printer Workers Union (DİSK BASIN-İŞ) President Faruk Eren were among those who were detained.

[…]

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/267451-police-prevent-saturday-mothers-gathering-ahead-of-hearing-detain-10-people

https://anfenglish.com/human-rights/many-detained-in-police-attack-on-saturday-mothers-62606

https://gerceknews.com/news/police-prevents-saturday-mothers-from-gathering-detains-14-people#gsc.tab=0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Mothers

Turkey: Seven lawyers among 15 detained in Ankara over Gülen links

20/09/22

Prosecutors in the Turkish capital of Ankara issued detention warrants on Tuesday for 36 people in two separate investigations, leading to the detention of 15 including seven lawyers due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

The detention warrants were issued based on the records of their phone conversations or on witness statements. Among those detained or facing detention are former police academy students and former public servants.

The suspects are accused of using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app considered by Turkey a secret tool of communication among supporters of the Gülen movement, and of having access to the questions on a State Personnel Examination (KPSS) held in 2013.

Following an abortive putsch in July 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in July, 117,208 people have been convicted, with 1,366 sentenced to life in prison and 1,634 to aggravated life with no chance of parole following the coup attempt. While 87,519 people have been acquitted of charges specifically related to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to Bozdağ, there are doubts about the number of people who have been acquitted of all charges by a court of law.

Judicial experts voice skepticism about the figures announced by the minister, saying that 117,208 convictions are only those that have been upheld by an appeals court, since Justice Ministry data show that more than 265,000 people were sentenced on charges of terrorist organization membership between 2016 and 2020 due to their alleged Gülen links.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/ankara/-/a-casebook-on-the-right-to-a-fair-trial-in-administrative-justice-has-been-published

Turkish Bar associations demand judicial independence and rule of law

01/09/22

As Turkish courts opened their new judicial year on Sept. 1, provincial bar associations have released a joint statement emphasizing the importance of judicial independence and rule of law.

Turkey’s 81 provincial bar associations have issued a joint statement ahead of the opening of the new legislative year, saying that they demand an independent judiciary and rule of law.

The judicial year starts on Sept. 1 every year in Turkey. As was the case last year, the opening ceremony of the 2022-2023 judicial year is scheduled to take place at the Court of Cassation.

Court of Cassation head Mehmet Akarca and Union of the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Erinç Sağkan will address the participants of the ceremony which will be also attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

In previous years, provincial bar associations had boycotted the judicial year opening ceremony taking place at the Presidential Palace and said that this was “damaging the judicial independence.”

This year, ahead of the ceremony, the 81 bar associations released a joint statement saying that “not even a step was taken in the past judicial year to tackle the problems that became chronic.”

The bar associations said that an understanding that “deepens the problems of lawyers around the axis of their own political agenda” cannot offer any solutions. They said that a system where “judicial independence is questioned and justice does not pertain” cannot function properly. “We want a fair judicial year for everyone in which the rule of law is maintained, rights and freedoms are realized,” they said.

“We will stand with determination by our will that we will use our constitutional rights until the end unless concrete steps are taken for the solution of our profession’s problems and maintenance of the rule of law and judicial independence.”

https://www.duvarenglish.com/turkish-bar-associations-demand-judicial-independence-and-rule-of-law-news-61200

https://anfenglish.com/human-rights/diyarbakir-bar-association-faith-in-judiciary-has-decreased-62230

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/tbb-erinc-sagkanin-konusmasi-engellendi-sansur-uygulandi-haber-1579633 (TURKCE)

https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/siyaset/tbb-yeni-adli-yila-sansurle-girdik-1976197

https://www.barobirlik.org.tr/

Aysel Tuğluk’s treatment by Turkish court ‘amounts to torture’, says lawyer

05/08/22

The treatment Kurdish politician and human rights lawyer Aysel Tuğluk has received from Turkey’s courts since her arrest and later dementia diagnosis behind bars constitutes torture, human rights lawyer Eren Keskin said. Keeping sick prisoners behind bars is the courts’ way of “intimidating” the Kurdish political movement, she added.

Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk being forced to testify in court despite her dementia diagnosis and deteriorating health constitutes psychological torture, said Eren Keskin, one of Turkey’s most prolific human rights lawyers.

Tuğluk was arrested in December 2016, and was diagnosed with dementia in February 2021 while serving time for several terrorism convictions.

Evidence against the veteran politician and human rights lawyer stems from speeches she gave on various occasions as part of her duties as chairwoman of the now-shuttered Democratic Society Party (DTP) and MP for the DTP and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Her family believes that the dementia was triggered by a traumatic incident at Tuğluk’s mother’s funeral.

The mother’s funeral procession and burial ceremony were attacked by Turkish nationalists in Ankara where she lost her life in September 2017. Tuğluk was in attendance upon special permission from the prison, and witnessed the attack on her mother’s remains. Mother Hatun Tuğluk’s body was unearthed soon after, and buried again in the family’s hometown of Tunceli (Dersim) when it became clear that attacks would continue if she was left in the Turkish capital.

“The racist attacks on her mother affected Aysel deeply,” Keskin told Mezopotamya Agency. “Aysel was imprisoned unjustly and then her mother was disrespected so. This triggered her condition. The dementia started then, and has been advancing since.”

[…]

https://www.duvarenglish.com/sick-prisoner-aysel-tugluk-forced-to-present-defense-during-hearing-news-61087

https://anfenglish.com/human-rights/1000-women-for-aysel-tugluk-platform-call-to-join-action-on-social-media-today-and-tomorrow-61532

https://anfenglish.com/women/aysel-tugluk-s-right-to-life-is-violated-61579

https://anfenglish.com/women/banner-drop-for-aysel-tugluk-in-amed-61650

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aysel_Tu%C4%9Fluk

https://www.bbc.com/turkce/articles/cp9mje4rxy4o (TURKCE)

https://www.birgun.net/haber/demans-teshisi-konulan-aysel-tugluk-tan-savunma-istendi-konusabilecek-durumda-degilim-397382

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/mahkeme-aysel-tuglukun-hastaligini-dinlemedi-bir-kurt-kadinina-iskence-ediyorsunuz-haber-1575655

https://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aysel_Tu%C4%9Fluk

https://anfdeutsch.com/aktuelles/aysel-tugluk-wird-das-recht-auf-leben-genommen-33342 (DEUTSCH)

(NEDERLANDS)

Death in prison: the case of 3 Turkish lawyers

03/08/22

In the aftermath of the coup attempt of July 2016, the Turkish government initiated a crackdown against actual or perceived members of the Gulen Movement which President Erdogan said was behind the coup attempt. To be exact, 332,884 have been arrested over their links to the Gülen movement, while more than 101,000 of those were put into pretrial detention. Of those 332,884, 116,702 people have so far been convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, while 115,714 are still being investigated or standing trial. Those arrested naturally included people with serious medical conditions.

The Turkish government used ill-treatment and torture at detention centres as an instrument to instil terror hoping those arrested would turn against each other and those who had any links, however small it might be, to report others to the government. This also caused public officials like judges, public prosecutors, police officers, prison staff, doctors etc who served as part of the Turkish prison service to either actively participate in the torture and ill-treatment of arrested victims at worst or at best to unlawfully ignore their suffering.

Of course, lawyers are no exception to this crackdown.  Despite the unequivocal UN principle that  Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions, more than 1600 lawyers have been arrested since  July 2016. The arrests were also made in clear breach of the Turkish Law on Attorneyship which prohibited the arrest of a lawyer save for instances of flagrante delicto.  529 lawyers have so far been sentenced to 3242 years in prison for trumped-up terrorism charges. The evidence against them often included nothing more than their client lists and “anonymous witness” statements.

Fethi Un was one such lawyer. He was a respected member of the Izmir Bar Association with more than 35 years of professional experience. In his own words “during his 36 years as a lawyer, he acted for thousands of clients from different backgrounds and political views at the same desk in the same small office”.

[…]

Violence against doctors and lawyers in Turkey

21/07/22

Violence against doctors and lawyers in Turkey has been growing in recent years. But instead of taking action, the government is openly hostile towards two unions representing the interestes of people working in these professions.

On 6 July, yet another doctor and a lawyer were murdered in Turkey, joining a grim tally of people who have lost their lives in violent attacks while at work. Both killings, which happened in separate incidents, led to reactions from the victims’ respective professional organisations, both of which have been targeted for a long time by the Turkish government led by President Recep Erdoğan‘s Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and its electoral ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

[…]

Death of a lawyer

Around the same time, another professional union, the Istanbul Bar Association, made a separate call for a boycott on the same dates and urged colleagues not to participate in court hearings to protest at the murder of Servet Bakırtaş, a lawyer who was killed by an ex-convict demanding the withdrawal of a compensation case against him.

The president of the Union of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), Erinç Sağkan, who had applied earlier this year to parliament on behalf of his organisation seeking the establishment of an inquiry committee to look into acts of violence against lawyers, said that there had been 19 cases of serious violence against lawyers in the first three months of this year, resulting in the death of three lawyers. He claimed this was a result of the backslide of the rule of law and working conditions for lawyers.

Parliament, where the majority of seats are held by the AKP and MHP, did not take action, neither after his application nor after a call made by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for an extraordinary session to enact a law on combating violence against doctors and lawyers.

“Instead of ‘looking sad’, if you’re upset, let’s take care of this right away. Let’s enact the Bakırtaş-Karakaya Violence Prevention Law. Immediately,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet on 7 July.  

Government vitriol aimed at unions of lawyers and doctors

The government does not hide its animosity towards both the TTB and TBB, which are traditionally among the strongest civil society organisations in Turkey. 

[…]

https://en.qantara.de/content/violence-against-doctors-and-lawyers-in-turkey-exposed-and-at-risk

European Court of Human Rights, UN bodies debunk Turkey’s post-coup prosecutions

14/07/22

On the sixth anniversary of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, the Turkish government continues to use emergency powers as well as the country’s overly broad and vague anti-terror laws to maintain its repressive control of the people. According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, 559,332 people have been investigated or prosecuted in the last six years for terrorism over their links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the coup attempt, although the movement denies any involvement. While 116,702 people have so far been convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, 115,714 are still being investigated or standing trial. According to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, 332,884 people were arrested over their alleged links to the Gülen movement between July 16, 2016 and June 20, 2022, with more than 101,000 put in pretrial detention and 104,000 subjected to judicial supervision.

The government has deployed a set of variables to accuse and prosecute those people for membership in a terrorist organization under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. These variables include (i) being a depositor at Bank Asya, a now-defunct Gülen-affiliated financial institution; (ii) being a shareholder in companies that have been dissolved/seized under a state of emergency declared after the failed coup for alleged Gülen links; (iii) using the ByLock messaging app, considered by Turkish authorities a secret tool of communication among members of the Gülen movement; (iv) police or intelligence agency reports; (v) analysis of social media activity and websites visited; (vi) donations made to relief organizations with alleged Gülen links; (vii) being a resident or student in dormitories or schools that were closed down under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links; (viii) sending children to those schools that were subsequently shuttered; (ix) subscription to Gülen-linked publications; (x) information received from colleagues or neighbors; and (xi) being a manager, employee or member of a trade union, association, foundation or company closed/dissolved/seized under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links.

Malicious prosecution is defined as the initiation of a criminal prosecution with malice and without probable cause. All those cases are literally malicious prosecutions since the set of variables used to prosecute hundreds of thousands of people are no more than details of everyday life and were absolutely lawful at the material time.

Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has so far found that pretrial detention based on those criteria is not sufficient to convince an objective observer of the existence of reasonable suspicion for being a member of a criminal organization.

[…]

Although Turkish courts are acting as willing executioners of the executive branch and no longer care or give credence to human rights conventions, constitutional principles or the law, when the victims are heard by the ECtHR and UN rights bodies, they are constantly being vindicated. It, therefore, proves the need for maintaining hope and continuing the fight for justice.

Statement of the Platform on judiciary in Turkey

Turkey: Suspect who killed a lawyer and woman in Istanbul was caught

06/07/22

The suspect, who allegedly killed a woman in Büyükçekmece after killing a lawyer in his office in Bakırköy, was caught by the police teams.

According to the information received, a lawyer working in the law office in Karlıktepe Mahallesi saw his colleague Servet Bakırtaş, bloody on the floor, when he returned from lunch.

Police and medical teams were sent to the scene after the situation was reported. Medical teams determined that Bakırtaş was shot with a gun and died.

The police, who started work to catch the suspect, shortly after the incident, Ö.T. He received a report that the woman named was murdered.

The suspect was taken into custody in a short time during the investigation carried out by the police teams, who determined that the perpetrator of both incidents was Abdullah T.

It turned out that the suspect had threatened both victims.

Attorney Bakırtaş’s body was sent to the Forensic Medicine Institute after the work of crime scene investigation teams.

It was learned that the suspect Abdullah T injured a relative of the deceased Öznur Tufan with a gun about 5 years ago, and for this reason he was arrested and sent to prison.

It was stated that Tufan filed a lawsuit for compensation due to this incident, and the suspect Abdullah T threatened Öznur Tufan and her lawyer Servet Bakırtaş for compensation after he was released from prison.

When the case was not withdrawn, it was learned that the suspect killed two people with a gun.

[…]

https://turkey.postsen.com/news/47959/Suspect-who-killed-a-lawyer-and-woman-in-Istanbul-was-caught.html

https://turkey.postsen.com/news/48287/Maintaining-a-profession-%E2%80%98at-the-risk-of-death%E2%80%99-is-a-disgrace-to-that-society.html

https://t24.com.tr/haber/istanbul-barosu-ndan-avukat-servet-bakirtas-in-oldurulmesi-hakkinda-aciklama-bir-meslegin-olumu-goze-alarak-surdurulmesi-o-toplum-icin-bir-utanctir,1045037 (TURKCE)

https://www.sabah.com.tr/galeri/yasam/son-dakika-abdullah-turkoglu-dehset-sacti-avukat-servet-bakirtas-ile-oznur-tufani-oldurdu

https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/kanli-baskinlar-avukat-servet-bakirtas-ve-dava-acan-kadini-oldurdu-42096873

Turkey: Lawyer testifies to being beaten by Turkish troops in military headquarters

28/06/22

Lawyer Harika Günay Karataş says that the military headquarters where the villagers and lawyers were beaten is notorious for systematic torture as is the commander in charge who has previously ordered torture against Kurds.

A lawyer who was subjected to violence at a gendarmerie (a military force with law enforcement duties among the civilian population) headquarters in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Yüksekova (Gever) on Sunday said that this was the second time within a year lawyers have been subjected to violence on instructions by the same gendarmerie officer, and that the headquarters the officer was in command of already had a reputation for systematic torture.

Lawyer Harika Günay Karataş, the branch co-chair of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), filed a criminal complaint against the troops who harassed her and dragged her on the ground, and beat her colleague Fırat İke, when the two came to the gendarmerie headquarters to provide legal services for villagers who were detained during a military operation.

Speaking to Mezopotamya News Agency, she explained what happened:

“Villagers who were out in the field to cut grass were taken into custody. When we heard about it, I went to the gendarmerie headquarters with Fırat İke. We were told that the villagers in custody were not actually under arrest, and that they merely came to provide information; but that was legally an arrest, anyway. When we said that we wanted to talk to the villagers, one was brought into the room even as he was subjected to a beating. When we tried to intervene, we were treated in just the same way.”

She added:

“The gendarmerie headquarters in question is already famous for practices of torture. The gendarmerie officer Bayram Konak, who gave instructions for torture in the recent incident, had given similar instructions in another incident last August to have a colleague of mine beaten, and for the detained villagers to be subjected to torture.”

[…]

(TURKCE)

https://ozgurdenizli.com/tag/ohd-hakkari-subesi-esbaskani-harika-gunay-karatas/

https://www.ozgurpolitika.com/haberi-kurtleri-avukatsiz-birakmak-istiyorlar-164615/

Turkey: 17 lawyers detained in İstanbul over alleged Gülen links

24/06/22

Turkish police have detained 17 lawyers in İstanbul due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Turkish Minute reported.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office recently ordered the detention of 20 lawyers, accusing them of ties to the movement based on payphone call records and affiliation with Bank Asya, which was closed by the government following a 2016 coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement and other associations connected to the group.

Seventeen of them were detained in operations simultaneously carried out in İstanbul, Ankara and Bursa provinces on Friday, Bold Medya said, adding that the police also seized their computers, mobile phones and books, claiming they were terrorism-related documents.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links.

[…]

https://www.rfi.fr/fr/moyen-orient/20220616-turquie-seize-journalistes-%C3%A9crou%C3%A9s-pour-appartenance-%C3%A0-une-organisation-terroriste

https://www.duvarenglish.com/turkish-justice-ministry-greenlights-probe-of-diyarbakir-lawyers-over-armenian-genocide-statement-news-60967

(FRANCAIS)