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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 15

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


September 28: The governor’s office in Tunceli imposed a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.


September 28: The governor’s office in Kars imposed a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days, citing national security and public order.


October 2: The Interior Ministry imposed a ban on all events to be held by NGOs, professional organizations, unions and cooperatives until December 1, 2020.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


September 28: The government-critical Halk TV stopped broadcast after a five-day broadcast ban imposed by media watchdog RTÜK went into effect. The channel risks losing its license entirely in case of a repeat of the same penalty.


September 28: Kocaeli-based journalists Faruk Bostan and Bülent Karagöz were arrested after publishing a news report on a sexual abuse allegations implicating local ruling AKP executives in Kocaeli.


Local journalists Faruk Bostan and Bülent Karagöz were arrested in Kocaeli

September 29: Activists Şehmus Kavak, Misli Cihan Şenleten and Özgür Doğuş Erhan from the Movement of the Nameless (İsimsizler Hareketi) were arrested for allegedly insulting the president.


September 29: An Ankara court accepted the indictment against OdaTv journalist Müyesser Yıldız and TELE1 broadcaster’s İsmail Dükel. The indictment seeks up to 17 years, 6 months in prison for each journalist on charges of disclosing confidential information.


TV executive İsmail Dükel and journalist Müyesser Yıldız face trial for disclosing confidential information

September 29: Journalist Merdan Yanardağ, who is standing trial for allegedly targeting the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor in a news report, was released on probation. Yanardağ’s indictment was prepared by the office of the same Chief Public Prosecutor.


Journalist Merdan Yanardağ

September 30: The police in Diyarbakır detained journalist Hakkı Boltan.


Journalist Hakkı Boltan was detained in Diyarbakır, along with pro-Kurdish politicians

September 30: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to two online news articles about a Turkey-based bank’s alleged transactions based on the FinCEN Files leaked from the US Secretary of the Treasury.


September 30: The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) blocked access to Sendika.org and Yeni Demokrasi news websites as well as the pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia news agency.


October 1: Turkey’s new regulations with tighter restrictions and control over platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, took effect. The law was approved by the Turkish parliament back in July.


October 1: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) claimed that at least 347 news articles were censored by Turkish authorities over the past three months.


October 2: Van prosecutors imposed confidentiality order on the allegations that two Kurdish villagers were thrown off military helicopters and banned broadcasting or publishing news about the issue.


October 2: Journalist Ayşenur Arslan was summoned as a suspect by prosecutors in İstanbul for a questioning over her social media posts.


Journalist Ayşenur Arslan was summoned for questioning by prosecutors

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


September 29: Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop expressed support for the calls in favor of reintroducing the death penalty, which was abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey’s EU accession bid.


September 29: Journalist Merdan Yanardağ, who is standing trial for allegedly targeting the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor in a news report, was released on probation. Yanardağ’s indictment was prepared by the office of the same Chief Public Prosecutor.


September 29: The Constitutional Court postponed its session where the individual application of imprisoned civil society leader Osman Kavala is to be reviewed.


September 30: A German foreign ministry report drafted to advise the country’s immigration authorities about asylum applications found that Turkey’s judiciary is mostly dysfunctional.


October 1: A Bursa prosecutor demanded the conviction on terror charges of jailed lawyer Levent Pişkin who is standing trial for having visited jailed Kurdish political leader Selahattin Demirtaş.


Lawyer Levent Pişkin is facing trial on terror charges for having visited jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş

October 1: The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by the main opposition CHP against the government-led law allowing multiple bar associations in a city. The controversial law was criticized by rights groups and legal experts for being designed to weaken the bar associations in large cities and to undermine their role as human rights watchdogs.


October 2: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voiced his support for the overhaul of the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest court. The development came after Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu repeatedly targeted the court over a decision annulling a law restricting the freedom of assembly.


KURDISH MINORITY


September 29: The police in Mersin detained local pro-Kurdish HDP politicians Gülbahar Şöfer and Barış Karabıyık in house raids.


September 30: Servet Turgut, a 55-year-old Kurdish villager who was allegedly thrown from a military helicopter, died after 20 days in intensive care. Van prosecutors imposed confidentiality order on the file and banned broadcasting or publishing news about the issue.


Kurdish villager Servet Turgut died after reportedly being thrown from a military helicopter

September 30: The police in Diyarbakır detained Gülistan Ensarioğlu, the co-mayor of the Eğil district from the pro-Kurdish HDP.


September 30: Kurdish musician Hozan Canê was released after spending two years behind bars. The musician was sentenced to 6 years, 3 months on terror charges. She was released after a court reviewing her case found the prison sentence disproportionate. Hozan Canê is also a citizen of Germany and the German government had made diplomatic efforts about her case.


Kurdish musician Hozan Canê was released from prison after two years in pre-trial detention

September 30: The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) blocked access to the pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia news agency.


October 1: Şevin Alaca, the co-mayor of the Kars province, was detained after the other co-mayor, Ayhan Bilgen, was detained last week along with 81 other pro-Kurdish politicians. A trustee was appointed by the interior ministry to replace the co-mayors.


October 1: A Bursa prosecutor demanded the conviction on terror charges of jailed lawyer Levent Pişkin who is standing trial for having visited jailed Kurdish political leader Selahattin Demirtaş.


October 2: An Ankara court ruled to arrest 17 Kurdish politicians, out of the 82 who were detained last week.


OTHER MINORITIES


September 28: Amidst the clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a convoy of cars with Azerbaijan flags was seen touring around the Kumkapı quarter in İstanbul which is home to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as many migrants from Armenia, leading to fears among the country’s Armenian minority.


PRISON CONDITIONS


September 28: A women’s prison in southeast Turkey banned a book about freedom of expression. The book was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey’s Constitutional Court.


September 29: Turkey-based Human Rights Association (İHD) reported that 20 people have died in prisons since the beginning of the year. İHD also claimed that there are 1,605 sick prisoners, 604 of which are seriously ill.


September 29: Jailed lawyer Aycan Çiçek had her finger broken after a scuffle with prison guards and she was placed in solitary confinement afterwards, instead of being taken to a hospital for treatment, according to revelations made to the media by the lawyer’s mother.


October 1: The Civil Society in the Penal System Association (CİSST) released a report on prison conditions, listing a number of problems including lack of proper ventilation, clean tap water, disinfectants and face masks.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


October 4: Turkish authorities reportedly detained 72 irregular migrants in the eastern province of Van. Two of the migrants were found dead inside the overcrowded van carrying them.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


September 30: Servet Turgut, a 55-year-old Kurdish villager who was allegedly thrown from a military helicopter, died after 20 days in intensive care. Van prosecutors imposed confidentiality order on the file and banned broadcasting or publishing news about the issue.

OTHERS AISBL | BELGIUM