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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 116

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 43 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement. In October 2020, a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) opinion said that widespread or systematic imprisonment of individuals with alleged links to the group may amount to crimes against humanity. Solidarity with OTHERS has compiled a detailed database to monitor the Gülen-linked mass detentions since a failed coup in July 2016.



September 6: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the pretrial detention of 230 judges and prosecutors after a failed 2016 coup was unlawful, ordering Turkey to pay 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to every applicant.


September 7: The Forensic Medicine Institution issued a report on Mehmet Emin Özkan, a 83-year-old ailing prisoner, in which it said that his apparent difficulty walking in a video footage was “exaggerated”. Özkan is suffering from heart problems, blood pressure, osteolysis and memory loss.


Mehmet Emin Özkan

September 9: Aysel Tuğluk, an imprisoned Kurdish politician who was kept behind bars despite being diagnosed with dementia over a year ago, was reportedly hospitalized after her situation worsened.


September 9: The authorities refused to release sick inmate Şemsettin Kargılı despite a university hospital report describing him as severely disabled. Kargılı is incarcerated in a Gaziantep prison.


September 9: The Freedom for Lawyers Association (ÖHD) announced that at least 50 sick prisoners lost their lives in the first eight months of the year.


September 9: Makbule Özer, an ailing 80-year-old inmate in Van, was released due to her health problems after spending four months behind bars.


September 10: Eda Nur Akkaya, a seven-month pregnant woman under investigation for alleged links to the Gülen movement, was arrested in Turkey after she was pushed back by Greece. Turkey’s laws prohibit the incarceration of pregnant women even if they are found guilty.


Eda Nur Akkaya

ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


No news has emerged of Yusuf Bilge Tunç, a former public sector worker who was sacked from his job by a decree-law during the 2016-2018 state of emergency and who was reported missing as of August 6, 2019 in what appears to be one of the latest cases in a string of suspected enforced disappearance of government critics since 2016.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION


September 6: The police in İstanbul intervened in a protest staged by construction workers, detaining 15 people.


September 8: A district governor’s office in Muğla banned a local music festival.


September 10: The police in İstanbul intervened in a protest organized by relatives of prisoners, briefly detaining eight people.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


September 5: Revealed court documents indicated that the authorities have blacklisted 20 journalists in exile for jointly publishing an online magazine.


September 6: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to 108 news reports about an assault against the office of a government-critical building in 2015 that was led by a prominent ruling party member.


September 6: İstanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into journalist Can Dündar for posting a satirical cartoon about Turkey’s prosecutors.


September 6: The police in İstanbul raided the office of a magazine, detaining three people that were inside.


September 6: An İzmir court ruled to block access to three news reports on the past remarks of a man who was appointed as an executive of a state-run radio.


September 7: A Gaziantep court sentenced the admin of a prominent government-critical Twitter account to 12 years, six months in prison on terrorism-related charges.


September 7: Diyarbakır prosecutors indicted Kurdish politician Leyla Güven, seeking up to 43 years in prison on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda. Güven is already incarcerated on conviction of other terrorism-related charges.


Leyla Güven

September 7: Van prosecutors indicted media executives Ferhat Çelik and İdris Yayla over coverage of allegations that a group of soldiers had tortured two villagers in the province.


September 7: Van prosecutors launched an investigation into journalist Oktay Candemir after he reported on vehicles rented for a presidential rally in the province.


September 8: An İstanbul court sentenced journalists Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu to six years, three months in prison on terrorism-related charges.


September 8: An Antalya court banned the publication, distribution and sale of a poetry book written by Kurdish politician Figen Yüksekdağ who has been behind bars since November 2016.


September 9: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) faulted Turkey in the case of Fehime Ete, a Kurdish woman who was convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda for celebrating the birthday of jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The court concluded that Ete’s conviction was in violation of freedom of expression.


September 9: İstanbul courts ruled to block access to at least nine news reports and two opinion pieces about the allegations of a mob boss implicating pro-government businessman Serhat Albayrak.


September 9: An Ankara court ordered opposition politician Canan Kaftancıoğlu to pay damages to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu for insulting him on social media.


September 10: The police in Gaziantep detained one person over social media commentary.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


September 6: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the pretrial detention of 230 judges and prosecutors after a failed 2016 coup was unlawful, ordering Turkey to pay 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to every applicant.


KURDISH MINORITY


September 6: A prison administration in Diyarbakır refused to deliver three government-critical newspapers to 16 jailed Kurdish journalists.


September 7: Diyarbakır prosecutors indicted Kurdish politician Leyla Güven, seeking up to 43 years in prison on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda. Güven is already incarcerated on conviction of other terrorism-related charges.


September 8: An İstanbul court sentenced journalists Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu to six years, three months in prison on terrorism-related charges. The journalists had previously worked as reporters for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA).


September 9: Aysel Tuğluk, an imprisoned Kurdish politician who was kept behind bars despite being diagnosed with dementia over a year ago, was reportedly hospitalized after her situation worsened.


September 9: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) faulted Turkey in the case of Fehime Ete, a Kurdish woman who was convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda for celebrating the birthday of jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The court concluded that Ete’s conviction was in violation of freedom of expression.


September 11: A racist attack against Kurdish construction workers in Kastamonu resulted in one death and one injury. One person was detained and arrested in connection with the incident.


OTHER MINORITIES


September 8: A church in Malatya filed criminal complaints with prosecutors after it received threats. The church was granted police protection and one individual was briefly detained in connection with the complaint.


PRISON CONDITIONS


September 6: A prison administration in Diyarbakır refused to deliver three government-critical newspapers to 16 jailed Kurdish journalists.


September 8: Media reports indicated that a Muğla prison has been holding an inmate named Ali Haydar Ildız in a one-person cell for five months.


September 9: A Gaziantep prison denied medical treatment to sick inmate Şemsettin Kargılı.


September 9: A prison administration in Samsun took 15 inmates out of their wards and placed them in one-person cells. The prison guards also confiscated the inmates’ personal items.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


September 5: Faris Muhammed Al-Ali, a 17-year-old Syrian teenager, was stabbed to death in what appears to be a hate crime in Hatay.


September 10: Eda Nur Akkaya, a seven-month pregnant woman under investigation for alleged links to the Gülen movement, was arrested in Turkey after she was pushed back by Greece.


September 11: Family members of 27-year-old Yunus Emre Ayyıldız announced that he fell into the Evros river and disappeared after he was pushed back by Greek soldiers while trying to flee Turkey.


Yunus Emre Ayyıldız

TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


September 5: Imprisoned journalist Ziya Ataman announced that he was strip-searched in prison.


Journalist Ziya Ataman

September 5: The guards in an Eskişehir prison strip-searched inmate Şiyar Yıldırım and verbally threatened him for protesting the practice.


September 6: Media reports said that the guards in a Kocaeli prison have been systematically mistreating inmates.


September 9: A prison administration in Afyon offered to give good behavior points to inmate Lütfi Koç in exchange for withdrawing his complaint related to an incident of torture that he suffered in the facility.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


September 7: Men killed 31 women and inflicted violence on at least 79 women in August, according to a monthly gender-based violence report released by Bianet.


September 9: Metin Ar, a man who was arrested for threatening his spouse, stabbed her to death after being released.