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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 16

EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORT


October 6: The European Commission released its 2020 report on Turkey, noting serious backsliding of the respect for democratic standards, rule of law and fundamental freedoms.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


October 6: The governor’s office in Batman imposed a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


October 8: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a presidential decree, ordering the postponement of a strike organized by glass manufacturing workers, citing national security reasons.


October 8: The governor’s office in Manisa imposed a ban on outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days, citing Covid-19 pandemic. The decision came ahead of a major protest march organized by mineworkers.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


October 5: Yaman Akdeniz, a prominent human rights announced that he was told by Facebook and Instagram that the platforms will not be assigning representatives to Turkey, which is a requirement under the country’s new social media law which took effect on October 1. Failure to comply with the new regulations could result in sanctions, including fines of up to $5.1 million and a slowing of bandwidth by as much as 90 percent. Meanwhile, media watchdog RTÜK issued a warning to Spotify and FOXplay, urging them to complete their licensing process in order to continue their activities in Turkey.


October 5: Dilan Ekin, a member of the leftist music band Grup Yorum, was arrested by a court after being detained on October 4. The group’s members frequently face prosecution over their public concerts.


October 6: Journalists Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur, Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala were detained after they reported on two Kurdish villagers who were allegedly tortured and thrown from a military helicopter.


October 6: A Balıkesir court ruled to block access to the Rûdaw news website, a pro-Kurdish outlet based in the Iraqi Kurdistan.


October 6: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to the Germany-based Nupel.net news website.


October 7: Media regulator RTÜK threatened legal action against media coverage on corruption allegations in state institutions.


October 7: Journalist Pınar Gayıp was detained in İstanbul over her coverage of a funeral.


October 7: An İstanbul court ruled to confiscate the assets of exiled journalist Can Dündar, in line with a previous ruling to declare him a “fugitive” in case he failed to appear in court within 15 days.


Journalist Can Dündar who has fled to Germany to avoid imprisonment

October 7: Journalist Fatih Pınar was acquitted of terrorism-related charges. Pınar faced trial for sharing a photo with the hashtag #NewrozPirozBe, which means “Happy Newroz” in Kurdish.


Journalist and documentary filmmaker Fatih Pınar faced prosecution for posting a hashtag in Kurdish

October 8: Murat İde, the press advisor of the opposition leader Meral Akşener, was detained by the police over an article that he penned in 2015.


Murat İde, the press advisor of opposition politician Meral Akşener

October 8: Zeynep Durgut, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency was briefly detained by gendarmerie forces while covering news.


Journalist Zeynep Durgut

October 8: Former MP Mahmut Alınak was briefly detained by the police for allegedly insulting the president. Alınak was released after his questioning.


October 8: A Diyarbakır prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of up to 15 years for journalist Ayşegül Doğan, who faces terrorism-related charges over her interviews and her participation in meetings.


Journalist Ayşegül Doğan faces up to 15 years in prison over her journalistic work

October 8: Journalist İnan Ketenciler was sentenced to 25 days in prison for taking a video of neighborhood guards’ mistreatment of a citizen. Ketenciler was charged with illegally acquiring and publishing personal data.


October 8: A news portal claimed that the Turkish authorities gathered information on a government-critical TV network broadcasting out of Germany and initiated terrorism-related investigations into the journalists who appeared on their shows.


October 8: Media regulator RTÜK imposed a fine against government-critical Halk TV, over a guest’s remarks criticizing Azerbaijan amid the ongoing clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus.


October 8: An Ankara court ruled to acquit journalist Ayser Çınar, who faced trial for spreading propaganda on behalf of terrorist groups, over her tweets about a Turkish military incursion into Syria.


Journalist Ayser Çınar faced trial over her comments on Turkey's cross-border military operation in Syria

October 9: Journalist Sertaç Kayar was acquitted of terrorism-related charges which he faced over his reports about the Democratic Society Congress’ (DTK) activities in Diyarbakır.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


October 6: The police detained Atilla Özbey and Emin Yıldız, executives of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in Ağrı, over press statements and assemblies that they attended. The two were released on probation on October 8.


October 9: An İstanbul prosecutor in a new indictment demanded an aggravated life sentence for prominent businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala on coup attempt and espionage charges.


Businessman and civil society leader Osman Kavala faces aggravated life in prison on coup-related charges

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


October 7: Supreme Election Board (YSK) rejected an appeal lodged by 24 bar associations requesting the annulment of an interior ministry order to postpone the bar elections due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


KURDISH MINORITY


October 5: Three Swedish politicians were reportedly prevented by Turkish authorities from paying a visit to jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş.


October 6: Journalists Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur, Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala were detained after they reported on two Kurdish villagers who were allegedly tortured and thrown from a military helicopter.


October 6: The police detained a number of HDP politicians in house raids carried out in Van, Diyarbakır, Urfa, Şırnak and Siirt.


October 6: A Balıkesir court ruled to block access to the Rûdaw news website, a pro-Kurdish outlet based in the Iraqi Kurdistan.


October 8: Şevin Alaca, the former co-mayor of the Kars province who was detained on October 1 as part of a large-scale crackdown on pro-Kurdish politicians, was arrested by a court.


October 8: Hayri Bökü, a district co-chair of the pro-Kurdish HDP in Manisa, was detained over a speech he made at a protest rally.


October 9: Media reports said that the Turkish authorities have been restricting Internet access of the Kurdish-majority town of Nusaybin for a year, citing security reasons.


MILITARY OPERATIONS ABROAD


October 5: Canada suspended the export of military drone components to Turkey, citing concerns that the equipment was being used against civilian communities in the clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia.


MISTREATMENT OF CITIZENS ABROAD


October 8: A news portal claimed that the Turkish authorities gathered information on a government-critical TV network broadcasting out of Germany and initiated terrorism-related investigations into the journalists who appeared on their shows.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


October 6: A media report claimed that prison guards in Diyarbakır used violence against an inmate named Kervan Bayhan, which led to the inmate’s leg being broken.


October 6: A media report claimed that prison guards in Kayseri battered prisoners Feyyaz Gülsoy, Ali Saday, Emrah Kına and Cumali Yıldırım.


October 6: Journalists Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur, Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala were detained after they reported on two Kurdish villagers who were allegedly tortured and thrown from a military helicopter.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


October 6: A monthly gender-based violence report compiled by bianet said that men inflicted violence on at least 97 women in September. Men killed at least 20 women, raped 19 and harassed 18, according to the report.


October 8: Muğla prosecutors demanded aggravated life imprisonment for Cemal Metin A., the main suspect in the feminicide of Pınar Gültekin back in July.

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