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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 12

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


September 11: More than 50 lawyers were detained upon warrants issued by Ankara prosecutors who in a written statementaccused them of following up on the cases of defendants affiliated to the Gülen movement and “trying to manipulate the trials under the guise of the practice of law.”


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


September 7: Activists Cemal Yıldırım, Muhammet Semih Karaoğlu and Resul Kalyoncu were detained by the police while trying to hold a press statement in protest of the large-scale purge of public sector workers in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016.


Activist Cemal Yıldırım who frequently gets detained for protesting Turkey's post-coup purges

September 7: Aygül Doku and Bedriye Doku were briefly detained after attempting a sit-in in the Tunceli province to protest the failure of authorities to locate their family member Gülistan Doku, who has been missing since January 5, 2020. The detainees were released the same day after their questioning.


21-year-old university student Gülistan Doku who was reported missing in January 2020

September 10: Gendarmerie forces violently dispersed a protest in Mardin’s Artuklu district against a local electricity distribution company, detaining nearly 20 people.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


September 7: Journalist Oktay Candemir was briefly detained in the province of Van over his comments critical of a TV series airing on state-run TRT channel.


Journalist Oktay Candemir who was briefly detained on Sept. 7

September 7: A person in Muğla was briefly detained for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media. The man was subsequently released pending trial and with a ban on leaving the country.


September 7: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news stories about the seizure of a non-seizable loan received by the opposition-held İstanbul municipality.


September 7: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a news story by the leftist BirGün newspaper about a municipal tender being granted to a pro-government businessperson in the Bahçelievler district.


September 8: A prosecutor demanded prison sentences ranging from eight to 19 years for journalists Barış Terkoğlu, Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik, Eren Ekinci, Erk Acarer, Hülya Kılınç, Barış Pehlivan and Murat Ağırel, who are standing trial on charges of disclosing classified information over their reports on a Turkish intelligence officer killed in Libya. Pehlivan, Kılınç and Ağırel were released after their hearing on September 9, which ended with Ağırel being sentenced to 4 years, 8 months; Pehlivan and Kılınç to 3 years, 9 months in prison. Journalist Terkoğlu was verbally targeted by interior minister Süleyman Soylu.


Journalists Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç and Murat Ağırel who are on trial over espionage charges

September 8: Reporter Serdal Işık was briefly detained over his social media posts. Işık was released after his questioning.


September 8: İstanbul prosecutors indicted musician Ferhat Tunç over the artwork of one of his albums, which features three leftist activists from the 1970s.


The cover of exiled musician Ferhat Tunç's album featuring 1970s lefitst activists

September 8: Journalist Özgür Boğatekin was summoned by a prosecutor to give a statement about a Facebook post where he criticized a racist attack against Kurdish seasonal workers in Sakarya.


Journalist Özgür Boğatekin who was summoned by prosecutors for questioning over his comments on social media

September 9: Media watchdog RTÜK announced that it started an investigation into Haber Global TV broadcaster over a guest’s remarks about the country’s religious high schools (imam hatip).


September 10: A court ordered imprisoned journalist Müyesser Yıldız to pay TL 20,000 (€ 2,250) in damages for allegedly insulting Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in her reporting on the July 2016 coup attempt. Yıldız is currently in prison on charges of espionage.


Journalist Müyesser Yıldız who is currently imprisoned over her reporting on the July 2016 coup attempt

September 10: Reporters Murat Başal and Emrah Kızıl were subjected to a knife attack by a group of people while following up on local news in Diyarbakır. The suspects involved in the attack were later released, which drew criticism from journalists’ associations.


Reporters Emrah Kızıl and Murat Başal

September 10: Hasan Basri Aydın, a 90-year-old retired teacher, was briefly arrested in İstanbul for allegedly insulting former minister Cemil Çiçek.


September 13: Justice ministry data indicated that 12,298 people stood trial in 2019 for allegedly insulting the president and 3,831 of the defendants were handed down sentences.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE


September 9: French newspaper Le Monde published an article severely criticizing Robert Spano, the head of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) over his visit to Turkey last week, where he only met with government and ruling party officials, excluding opposition circles, minorities and human rights defenders. Leading human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı said in a podcast interview that Spano should resign for his one-sided visit to Turkey, which she said resembled a “pro-government puppet show.”


ECtHR head Robert Spano being received by President Erdoğan at his palace in Ankara

KURDISH MINORITY


September 10: A court in the Van province sentenced former HDP provincial co-chair Yadişen Karabulak to 7 years, 6 months in prison on terrorism-related charges.


September 11: A court sentenced pro-Kurdish HDP MP Remziye Tosun to 10 years in prison for alleged “membership in a terrorist organization.”


HDP MP Remziye Tosun who has been handed down a 10-year prison sentence

MISTREATMENT OF CITIZENS ABROAD


September 8: The General Prosecutor of Moldova announced that the country’s former intelligence chief Vasile Botnari received a suspended sentence for the forcible rendition to Turkey of a group of Turkish teachers. Botnari was also ordered to pay €125,000 in fines, the amount that Moldova lost in the case of five of the teachers whose lawyers sued the country before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).


PRISON CONDITIONS


September 9: Rights groups alleged that a prisoner in Gümüşhane named Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu was put in a prison cell after he showed symptoms of Covid-19 and that he was found dead in the cell the next day.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


September 7: Turkish authorities arrested Maryam Shariatmadari, an Iranian anti-hijab activist, to be deported to Iran, where she could face execution. Shariatmadari was released the next day, but her future and status in the country remain unclear.


Iranian activist Maryam Shariatmadari who was briefly arrested to be deported to Iran where she could face execution

September 9: A 13-year-old Afghan migrant child was found dead in an irrigation pool in Ankara where he was working as a shepherd.


September 11: Ümit Şakır, a Turkish asylum seeker was reported missing since September 3. Şakır was reportedly left stranded in the Evros river by the Greek border guards.


Turkish asylum seeker Ümit Şakır has been missing since Sept. 3

September 11: A Turkish asylum seeker fleeing the Turkish government spoke to a news website, alleging that he and a group of other migrants were subjected to torture at the hands of the Greek security forces in Neo Cheimonio after their arrival in Greece, before being pushed back to Turkey across the Evros river.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


September 11: A monthly rights report released by opposition MP and human rights defender Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that at least 143 people, including five children, were subjected to torture in August 2020.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


September 10: The Constitutional Court ruled that a woman’s rights were violated when she was prevented by a lower court from having an abortion after being sexually abused in childhood years.

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