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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 21

November 11: A draft European Parliament report on Turkey highlighted the backsliding on the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country. The report included criticism of Turkey’s overly broad anti-terrorism laws, disregard of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings by the Turkish judiciary.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


November 9: The police in İstanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport briefly detained leftist activist Deniz Aktaş for a questioning. Aktaş is under investigation over protests of government’s removal of the elected mayor of Van.


November 11: The police in İstanbul blocked a sit-in organized by a group of workers demanding their unpaid salaries and severances, detaining four people.


November 11: The police in İstanbul blocked a press statement held by the members of the Furkan Foundation, briefly detaining 40 people.


November 12: The Governor’s Office in Mardin issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a month, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.


November 12: A Diyarbakır court sentenced activist Narin Gezgör to 7 years, 6 months in prison on terrorism charges, and prosecutors demanded up to 15 years for Sevim Coşkun, as part of an investigation into the Rosa Women’s Association.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


November 9: An İstanbul court sentenced online news editor Ali Ergin Demirhan to 1 year, 2 months, 17 days in prison for insulting the president, over six tweets he posted in 2018.


News editor Ali Ergin Demirhan was sentenced to prison for allegedly insulting the president on Twitter

November 9: An Ankara court ruled to release journalist Müyesser Yıldız at the first hearing of her trial. Yıldız was arrested in June on charges of espionage over a report on Turkey’s military involvement in Libya.


Journalist Müyesser Yıldız was released from pre-trial detention over her reports

November 9: An Ağrı court ruled to release on probation journalist Aziz Oruç, who was arrested in December on terrorism charges.


Journalist Aziz Oruç was released on probation after nearly a year in pre-trial detention

November 9: A Nevşehir court ruled to censor and confiscate two books on alleged government corruption published by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).


November 9: An Ankara court ruled to block access to news stories about the background of a government appointee, citing violation of personal rights.


November 9: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news stories about a previous access ban on news stories.


November 10: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Turkey violated the freedom of expression of journalists Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Musa Kart, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Hakan Karasinir, Güray Tekin Öz and Bülent Utku who were imprisoned on terrorism charges.


November 10: The police in Ankara briefly detained Hamdullah Bayram, an employee of the Yeni Yaşam newspaper.


November 10: The police in Şırnak detained journalist Cihan Ölmez as part of an investigation by Diyarbakır prosecutors into the Kurdish political movements.


November 10: Journalist Çağlar Tekin was briefly detained over a tweet about ISIS members in northern Syria using captured Turkish military vehicles.


November 10: A YouTube creator revealed that he and a person with whom he conducted a street interview were summoned by the police for questioning over comments in the interview about the resignation of the finance minister.


November 11: İstanbul prosecutors demanded up to 4 years, 8 months in prison for 80-year-old actress Nilüfer Aydan for allegedly insulting the president on social media.


November 12: An Ankara court sentenced journalist Yılmaz Özdil to five months in prison over his remarks on a TV show criticizing the defense minister.


Journalist Yılmaz Özdil was sentenced to 5 months in prison for criticizing the Turkish Defense Minister on TV

November 12: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Turkey violated the freedom of expression of journalist Halil İmrek, who was imprisoned over a speech.


November 12: An İstanbul prosecutor indicted former TV anchorman Erkan Akkuş, seeking up to 15 years in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.


Former TV anchorman Erkan Akkuş faces up to 15 years in prison on terrorism charges

November 13: An opposition MP’s report found that a total of 63,041 people have faced investigations on charges of insulting the president between 2014 when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took office and the end of 2019. The report said that 9,554 people were convicted as a result.


November 13: Bitlis prosecutors cited a storybook by imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş as a terrorism evidence. The book was found in the house of Necmettin İşlek, who is standing trial for alleged membership in a terrorist organization.


November 13: The Governor’s Offie in Şanlıurfa banned a Kurdish-language theater play.


November 14: Ankara prosecutors prepared a summary of proceedings against opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, seeking the removal of his parliamentary immunity so that he can be tried of charges of “praising an offense and an offender.”


FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT


November 11: Gülhan Çolakoğlu, a former chemistry teacher purged from public service after a failed coup in July 2016, lost her life after authorities refused to lift her travel ban for her scheduled treatment in Germany.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


November 11: Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül announced that 116,170 out of 167,719 tip-offs received by Turkish prosecutors in 2020 turned out to be false. The revelation threw into question the government’s policies to encourage informers.


November 12: An opposition MP’s report found that 52 percent of rights violation verdicts by the Constitutional Court involved violations of the defendants’ right to a fair trial.


November 13: The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) demanded the names of judges and prosecutors involved in court decisions to arrest businessman and civil society leader Osman Kavala. The HSK also sought the names of those involved in rulings that failed to honor a December 2019 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision ordering Kavala’s release.


KURDISH MINORITY


November 9: The police in Şırnak detained five people including Berivan Kutlu, former co-mayor of the Cizre district, and Güler Tunç, HDP district co-chair.


November 9: A Mardin court ruled to arrest Hasip Aktaş and Ahmet İnci, two former mayors who were detained on Oct. 30 as part of an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).


November 9: A court ruled to arrest Ali Coşkun and Kadriye Töre, local HDP executives in Osmaniye who were detained on Nov. 4 on terrorism charges.


November 10: The police in Şırnak detained journalist Cihan Ölmez as part of an investigation by Diyarbakır prosecutors into the Kurdish political movements.


November 10: The police in Erzurum detained local HDP executives Necmettin Aydın and Adem Gözüngü. The politicians were arrested by a court on Nov. 12.


November 10: The police in Bingöl detained local HDP member Murat Aydın. The detainee was released on Nov. 11.


November 12: A Diyarbakır court sentenced activist Narin Gezgör to 7 years, 6 months in prison on terrorism charges, and prosecutors demanded up to 15 years for Sevim Coşkun, as part of an investigation into the Rosa Women’s Association.


November 13: Bitlis prosecutors cited a storybook by imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş as a terrorism evidence. The book was found in the house of Necmettin İşlek, who is standing trial for alleged membership in a terrorist organization.


November 13: The Governor’s Offie in Şanlıurfa banned a Kurdish-language theater play.


MISTREATMENT OF CITIZENS ABROAD


November 12: Media reports revealed the growing pressure on the Turkish staff members of a school in Albania, leading to fears of possible forcible returns to Turkey where the allegedly Gülen-linked individuals would be faced with a possibility of torture and ill-treatment. Albania has deported an alleged Gülen follower, Harun Çelik, to Turkey, despite his asylum request.


OTHER MINORITIES


November 9: The police in İstanbul briefly detained 18 transgender women in what they and rights activists have described as a targeted harassment based on their identity.


November 12: Amnesty International launched an online petition requesting the acquittal of 18 university students and one academic who are standing trial for attending a LGBTI parade.


PRISON CONDITIONS


November 10: Ahmet Kaplan, a former police officer who was diagnosed lung cancer while behind bars on terrorism charges, lost his life after authorities denied to release him for treatment.


November 12: Sıtkı Bektaş, a sick inmate held in a Tekirdağ prison, lost his life after having a gastric bleeding.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


November 11: An NGO alleged that government officials discriminated against migrants during the relief efforts following the devastating earthquake that hit İzmir.


November 13: A vehicle carrying migrants overturned on a highway in eastern Turkey. Two migrants lost their lives due to the accident while 31 people were injured.


November 15: The Turkish coast guard rescued 19 asylum seekers in a rubber dingy off the Aegean coast.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


November 9: A lawyers’ group announced that Ahmet Ayva, one of their clients in police custody, was being coerced into becoming an informant for authorities.


November 12: Relatives of prisoners held in an İzmir prison alleged that the inmates were being subjected to torture in padded cells by prison guards.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


November 12: A Diyarbakır court sentenced activist Narin Gezgör to 7 years, 6 months in prison on terrorism charges, and prosecutors demanded up to 15 years for Sevim Coşkun, as part of an investigation into the Rosa Women’s Association.

OTHERS AISBL | BELGIUM