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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 13

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


September 17: Abdülselam Kutlu, the head of a local workers’ association, was detained after he called on workers to halt work in protest of low daily wages.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


September 14: The governor’s office in Tunceli issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for 15 days, citing Covid-19 measures.


September 14: İstanbul police blocked a protest against local government Covid-19 measures against outdoor gatherings, detaining five people including two journalists.


September 15: Protesters named Filiz Özçelik and Ümit Özçelik were briefly detained by the police during a public statement in Hatay.


September 15: A protest march organized by local health professionals about the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic was blocked by the police.


September 16: Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the MHP and an ally of the ruling AKP, in a series of tweets targeted the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) which criticized the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bahçeli called for TTB’s shutdown as well as legal proceedings against its executives.


September 17: The police briefly detained 20 people trying to hold a press statement protesting a businessman who reportedly laid them off without paying severance.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


September 15: A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said Turkey violated the right to liberty and security as well as freedom of expression of the Sweden-based writer Ragıp Zarakolu. In 2019, the High Court of Sweden rejected Turkey’s request for Zarakolu’s extradition.


Sweden-based writer Ragıp Zarakolu has faced several prosecutions in Turkey

September 15: An Ankara court ruled to block access to gabile.com, a dating and chat site for Turkey’s LGBTI+ community.


September 15: Germany rejected Turkey’s request for mutual judicial assistance to take the testimony of musician Ferhat Tunç, who is tried by an İstanbul court for allegedly insulting the president. The court overseeing Tunç’s case issued a warrant against the musician.


Ferhat Tunç, exiled musician living in Germany

September 16: A prosecutor in Muş charged journalist İdris Sayılğan with terror propaganda over his Facebook posts. The journalist has already served 1,137 days behind bars.


Journalist İdris Sayılğan who is facing prosecution over his social media posts

September 16: Enes Keskin, a local leftist politician based in Edirne, was briefly detained over his social media posts.


September 17: Media regulator RTÜK imposed fines against government-critical TV channels Haber Global, Meltem TV, TELE 1 and Fox TV. Haber Global also received a broadcast suspension over the remarks of a guests against religious high schools (imam hatip).


September 17: The Constitutional Court ruled that MP Enis Berberoğlu’s rights were violated after he was sentenced to 5 years, 10 months over his reporting as a journalist of the Turkish intelligence trucks heading to the Syrian border loaded with guns.


Journalist and politician Enis Berberoğlu who was sentenced to prison as part of the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial

September 17: English PEN appointed imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent as an honorary member.


Journalist Nedim Türfent has been held behind bars since May 2016

September 17: Fatma Turan, a member of Turkey’s Saturday Mothers, was briefly detained for allegedly insulting the president.


September 18: An İstanbul court overseeing the trial of exiled journalist Can Dündar declared Dündar as a “fugitive,” ruling for a confiscation of all his property in case he fails to appear before court within 15 days.


Journalist Can Dündar who has fled to Germany to avoid imprisonment

September 18: Local courts have not implemented a Constitutional Court ruling to lift the access block imposed on leftist sendika.org, which was delivered in March 2020.


September 19: Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel was sentenced to 11 months in prison for insulting the president, over her remarks calling the president “an enemy of women and Kurds.”


Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel who was sentenced to 11 months in prison for allegedly insulting the president

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE


September 14: The mass detention of 60 lawyers on Sept. 11 continued to draw reactions throughout the week. The İstanbul Bar Association on Monday denounced the detentions. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called for a release of the lawyers. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the detentions undermined the right to a legal defense. Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) said it was unacceptable to criminalize lawyers for representing their clients. The Norwegian branch of PEN International, Norsk PEN, said that the detentions confirm that the government is waging “outright war on legal defence profession.” Sixty Turkish jurists issued a joint letter describing the detentions as a campaign to intimidate and deter legal professionals. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, the German Bar Association, and the Law Society of England and Wales released an open letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, urging the release of the detainees.


Turkey detained 60 lawyers on Sept. 11 on terrorism-related charges

September 15: The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the prison sentences of 14 lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD), who were convicted of terrorism-related charges.


September 15: Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş in an interview to Financial Times said the ineptness of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in preventing the Turkish government from abusing the country’s judiciary had left him and thousands of others languishing in jail.


ECtHR president Spanó's visit to Turkey in early September drew ire from rights groups from Turkey and Europe

September 15: Interior minister Süleyman Soylu verbally targeted the president of the Constitutional Court after the court ruled to annul a law prohibiting demonstrations and protest marches on intercity roads, saying “Then, you do not need to have police protection. Go to work by bike.”


September 18: Local courts have not implemented a Constitutional Court ruling to lift the access block imposed on leftist sendika.org, which was delivered in March 2020.


KURDISH MINORITY


September 14: An armed attack targeting Kurdish workers in Afyon claimed the life of Özkan T. while two others were wounded as a result of the incident.


Kurdish worker Özkan T. who lost his life after a racist attack in Afyon

September 14: Kurdish politicians, including HDP MP Murat Sarısaç, were prevented by the police from attending the funeral for Özkan T. who was killed in a racist attack in Afyon.


September 14: A military conscript, Doğan Çetin, alleged that he was battered by two soldiers in the unit for saying he wished there was education in Kurdish.


September 17: Diyarbakır prosecutors prepared a Red Notice request against Osman Baydemir, a former MP for the pro-Kurdish HDP and the former mayor of Diyarbakır. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office also asked the Justice Ministry to demand Baydemir’s extradition from the UK where he reportedly lives.


Turkey is reportedly set to request from the UK the extradition of Kurdish politician Osman Baydemir

September 17: Former HDP MP Leyla Güven was briefly detained by the police after joining a protest held by the Saturday Mothers.


September 17: The trustee appointed by Ankara to replace the Kurdish mayor of the eastern city of Van substituted local place name signs in Kurdish with signs in Turkish.


MILITARY OPERATIONS ABROAD


September 16: A UN report alleged that persons detained by Turkey-backed Syrian forces, including Syrian nationals, have been transferred to Turkey for detention and trial. Turkey denied the allegation.


OTHER MINORITIES


September 15: An Ankara court ruled to block access to gabile.com, a dating and chat site for Turkey’s LGBTI+ community.


September 18: Hrant Dink Foundation released its yearly hate speech report for 2019, in which it found that 80 different groups of people were targeted by 5,515 hate speech items throughout the year.


PRISON CONDITIONS


September 16: A quarterly report by the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) on the prison conditions in the Marmara region found a surge in rights violations against prisoners including deprivation of nutrition, undue transfers and strip searches, and denial of necessary medical treatment.


September 18: Media reports indicated that sick inmate Semire Direkçi has been denied surgery that she needs.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


September 14: A 16-year-old Syrian refugee child was reportedly stabbed to death in fight between two groups in Samsun.


16-year-old Syrian refugee Eymen Hammami lost his life after a racist attack in Samsun

September 16: Eighty-three out of 100 refugee workers interviewed by a workers’ association stated that they lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The refugee workers were also reportedly excluded by the social benefit programs extended to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


September 20: Turkish soldiers tortured two Kurdish villagers they had detained, throwing them from a helicopter after battering them, according to eyewitness claims. A medical report stated one of the villagers suffered injuries consistent with a fall from a height.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


September 16: The family of a 12-year-old rape survivor have reportedly been receiving threats after they reported the leader of a religious cult for sexual assault against their daughter.


September 16: An İzmir court issued a restraining order against the ex-husband of a woman, three years after she was murdered by him.


September 18: A union report on gender pay gap found that men in Turkey earn 31.4 percent higher than their female counterparts.

OTHERS AISBL | BELGIUM