Tag Archives: Turkey

Turkey’s top judicial body disbars 13 judges, prosecutors over Gülen links

05/10/21

Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has disbarred 10 prosecutors and three judges due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Turkish Minute reported, citing Turkey’s Official Gazette.

“Now that they have been found to be linked to, or affiliated with, the FETÖ/PDY Armed Terrorist Organization, it has been unanimously decided that the persons in question are not fit to remain in the profession and therefore, should be disbarred under Article 26 of Law no. 7145 and Provisional Article 35(A) of Law-Decree no. 375,” the state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the HSK’s decision as saying.

FETÖ is a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement.

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

More than 4,500 judges and prosecutors have been disbarred since the failed coup on the grounds of ties to the Gülen movement.

Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs due to alleged Gülen links.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in February 2021, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.

[…]

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/over-100-feto-terror-linked-suspects-nabbed-across-turkey-3581615

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

Turkey: 78 bar associations say ‘attack on defense is unacceptable’

15/09/21

Raising concerns about the mounting threats and attacks against the right to defense, the 78 bar associations demand the suspension of the presiding judge and the police who took the Diyarbakır Bar Chair and lawyers out of the courtroom by force.

The 78 bar associations of Turkey have released a written statement condemning the incident where Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Nahit Eren, the bar executives and lawyers were taken out of the courtroom by police force at the hearing of Ayşe Gökkan, the former Nusaybin Mayor and Free Women’s Movement (TJA) Term Spokesperson, on September 13.

“No person or institution can prevent a lawyer who is fulfilling her or his duty of defense from practicing the profession of attorneyship, they cannot physically attack or insult the lawyers,” the bars have said.

In their joint statement “aimed that expressing themselves and showing their determination of struggle in the face of the mounting threats and attacks on defense and the profession of attorneyship”, the bars have recalled that “the presiding judge ordered the police to take Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair lawyer Nahit Eren and lawyers out of the courtroom while the police officers physically attacked and insulted the bar chair, executives and lawyers.”

The bar associations have stressed that both the Presiding Judge of the Diyarbakır 9th Heavy Penal Court and the police officers who were involved in the incident should be immediately suspended from duty and the necessary legal and administrative investigation should begin.

Emphasizing the importance of the right to defense, the bars have said that this right “is the most important part of the right to a fair trial.”

[…]

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/250285-78-bar-associations-say-attack-on-defense-is-unacceptable

https://bianet.org/1/133/250279-78-baro-savunmaya-saldiri-kabul-edilemez (TURKCE)

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/78-barodan-ortak-aciklama-9-agir-ceza-mahkemesi-baskani-gorevden-uzaklastirilsin-haber-1535019

https://www.basnews.com/tr/babat/712350?cf_chl_jschl_tk=pmd_Ghy_X1o2CgZHVmPcT0pa0LVIC_HuC.GIxQP8dTQgJJg-1631781079-0-gqNtZGzNAeWjcnBszQjR

https://www.tigrishaber.com/diyarbakir-baro-baskani-degisiklikler-kazanimlari-yok-etti-73430h.htm

https://bianet.org/kurdi/mafen-mirovan/250295-78-baro-erisa-li-diji-parastine-naye-qebulkirin (KURDI)

(NEDERLANDS)

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.

[…]

Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

19/07/21

Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, AIJA – International Association of Young Lawyers, the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales, and The Netherlands Helsinki Committee express concern about access to the legal profession and the increasing number of disbarments in Turkey.

We, the undersigned organizations, have long been deeply concerned about the increasingly challenging and hostile environment  in which  lawyers in Turkey have had to operate since the state of emergency following the attempted coup in July 2016. Lawyers have been subjected to judicial harassment, including mass arrests, raids, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, illegitimate criminal charges, unfair trials and harsh sentences in disregard of the most basic principles of the rule of law.

We are worried about another tool used by the government to further target and pressure lawyers, by preventing individuals who are being investigated, prosecuted or dismissed by emergency decrees which have now become part of the permanent law, from enrolling in law apprenticeships or obtaining their license to practice law.[i] This systematic practice has increased considerably since the state of emergency.[ii] We are also alarmed about the growing number of lawyers who have seen their licenses to practice law annulled on the same grounds.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/turkey-ongoing-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-lawyer-eren-keskin

https://www.amnesty.fr/liberte-d-expression/actualites/les-11-distanbul-une-affaire-emblematique-de-la-repression-en-turquie (FRANCAIS)

Turkey: Dozens nabbed in operations against FETÖ handlers in Turkey

06/07/21

Counterterrorism police escort a captured suspect in an operation against FETÖ, in Istanbul, Turkey, March 31, 2021. (İHA PHOTO)

Turkish security forces on Tuesday detained dozens of suspects in separate operations across the country against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). At least 50 people were nabbed in operations targeting the group’s secret members, including handlers for its infiltrators in the judiciary and a group of lawyers.

In the capital, Ankara, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 66 suspects, who were identified through a probe on “judiciary imams” of the terrorist group. The group uses the term “imam” in reference to handlers for infiltrators everywhere, from the judiciary to military, law enforcement and bureaucracy. Some 50 suspects were captured while a manhunt is underway to capture the others.

In another operation based in Istanbul, authorities issued arrest warrants for 15 lawyers linked to the terrorist group. A number of suspects were detained though police did not announce exact numbers.

[…]

https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/investigations/dozens-nabbed-in-operations-against-feto-handlers-in-turkey

https://arrestedlawyers.org/2021/06/10/abuse-of-the-anti-terrorism-laws-by-turkey-is-steadily-increasing/

Turkey: Sentencing and continued judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Sevda Özbingöl Çelik

15/06/21

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing and continued judicial harassment of Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, a human rights lawyer from the Urfa Bar Association and a member of the Human Rights Association (IHD) Urfa Branch and Urfa Bar’s Human Rights Center.

On June 7, 2021, Urfa’s Sixth Heavy Penal Court sentenced Sevda Özbingöl Çelik to 11 years and six months of prison, on charges of “membership to a terrorist organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Code), “violating the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Meetings” (Article 28 of the Law no. 2911), and “terrorist propaganda” (Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law).

These charges are related to her participation to “unauthorised” peaceful assemblies between 2013 and 2017 in relation to women’s rights, hunger strikes of prisoners and accountability for the killings of civilians, during which “terrorist propaganda” was allegedly made through banners and slogans; to her meetings with her clients as a lawyer; her social media posts; and her membership to associations that were shut down following the passing of emergency decrees [1]. Furthermore, the charges are based on the testimonies of two anonymous witnesses – one of which later withdrew her testimony –, who claim Sevda Özbingöl Çelik ensured “communication between the members of the terrorist organisation” through meetings with her imprisoned clients and that she was herself allegedly seen with other members of the terrorist organisation. This lack of credible evidence is symptomatic of judicial harassment of human rights defenders in Turkey, and the use of anonymous witnesses in cases involving terrorism charges has been systematically criticised by civil society in Turkey and international actors for violating the right to fair trial.

Furthermore, the judicial control measures and travel ban previously imposed on her remain in force. The sentence against her is not final and her lawyers have declared they will appeal the sentence, and she will remain free until her appeal takes place. If her conviction is upheld, she will be imprisoned to serve the sentence and will lose her license to practice as a lawyer.

The Observatory recalls that on March 12, 2020, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik’s house and office were raided and she was subsequently arrested, in the context of coordinated arrests and raids in the houses and offices of 13 human rights lawyers [2]. The Prosecutor’s Office in Urfa initially opened an investigation against her for “assisting a terrorist organisation” (Article 220/7 of the Turkish Criminal Code). On March 17, 2020, the Peace Judgeship ordered the pre-trial detention of Sevda Özbingöl Çelik in Urfa, based on “her representation of individuals charged with membership to a terrorist organisation” as a lawyer and “her visits to the prison”. An anonymous witness alleged that she was among the lawyers who supported the communication between prisoners. After nine months in pre-trial detention, she was released on judicial control on December 11, 2020, and imposed a travel ban pending trial.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/turkey-sentencing-and-continued-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights

https://arrestedlawyers.org/2021/06/10/abuse-of-the-anti-terrorism-laws-by-turkey-is-steadily-increasing/

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/avukat-sevda-celik-ozbingole-11-yil-hapis-haber-1524718 (TURKCE)

https://www.rudaw.net/turkish/kurdistan/080620213

https://ilerihaber.org/icerik/hdpli-sevda-celik-ozbingole-11-yil-6-ay-hapis-cezasi-127019.html

Turkey: Turkish Justice Ministry seeks cancelation of dismissed academic’s license to practice law

25/05/21

The Turkish Justice Ministry has filed a complaint against dismissed academic Cenk Yiğiter in an effort to cancel his license to practice law and prevent him from working as an attorney, the Duvar news website reported.

Yiğiter was dismissed from his position at Ankara University’s faculty of law in 2017 for signing the Academics for Peace (BAK) declaration of January 2016. He was charged with “spreading terrorist propaganda for a terrorist organization,” and his conviction is pending at an appeals court.

After his dismissal Yiğiter decided to pursue a career as a lawyer and started an internship in 2018, which is a requirement to qualify as a lawyer in Turkey. However, the ministry filed a lawsuit against Yiğiter arguing that dismissed public servants could not work as lawyers. Yiğiter lost the legal battle and was forced to leave the internship only eight days before it was scheduled to end.

The Constitutional Court ruled last year that dismissed public servants could register with bar associations and work as lawyers. Yiğiter subsequently did another internship and received his law license in April.

The Academics for Peace declaration was titled “We will not be party to this crime” and criticized the Turkish government for its violation of human rights and civil casualties among the predominantly Kurdish population of eastern Turkey. A total of 1,128 academics from various disciplines, mainly in the social sciences, signed the peace declaration, a number that more than doubled with the support of many other academics, artists and public intellectuals from around the world.

[…]

https://www.duvarenglish.com/turkish-justice-ministry-seeks-annulment-of-dismissed-academic-cenk-yigiters-lawyers-license-news-57597

https://trnews0.blogspot.com/2021/05/turkish-justice-ministry-seeks.html

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/adalet-bakanligi-cenk-yigiterin-ruhsatinin-iptali-icin-dava-acti-haber-1523225 (TURKCE)

https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/akademisyen-cenk-yigiter-aym-kararinin-ardindan-avukatlik-icin-baroya-basvuracak-1764468