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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 27

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


December 22: Ruling AKP tabled a bill authorizing the interior minister to shut down associations and the president to freeze assets without a court order. The legislation could lead to further stifling of Turkey’s civil society. A total of 520 Turkey-based NGOs released a joint statement, calling the bill to be in disregard of the freedom of association.


December 22: The police in İstanbul attacked a demonstration organized to protest the arrest of HDP politician Leyla Güven, using excessive violence against wheelchair-bound HDP MP Musa Piroğlu and detaining 14 people.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


December 21: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to the pro-Kurdish JinNews website. The decision constituted the 27th such ban on the website.


December 21: A Şanlıurfa court ruled to block access about a local ruling AKP member who continued to serve among the party ranks after a public controversy.


December 22: The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into social media posts and news reports exposing the extensive use of strip-searches in prisons, citing signs of “deliberate” and “organized” action.


December 23: An İstanbul court sentenced journalist Can Dündar to 27 years, six months in prison on espionage charges. Dündar lives in exile in Germany, which rejected calls from Turkey to extradite him.


Exiled journalist Can Dündar

December 23: Opposition MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that authorities were refusing to release imprisoned journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal despite the fact that she is eligible for parole.


Imprisoned journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal

December 23: A detailed investigative report claimed that state-owned TRT broadcaster has been using YouTube’s copyright protection mechanisms to unlawfully harass government-critical channels and small content providers.


December 24: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news stories about criminal complaints filed against a judge who overturned an earlier non-prosecution decision about opposition politician Canan Kaftancıoğlu.


December 25: The police in Tunceli detained journalist Gülistan Azak for an investigation launched in 2018.


Journalist Gülistan Azak

December 25: An Edirne court imposed a gag order on news reports about Veysel Filiz, a former employee of the Turkish Embassy in Brussels who was arrested on drug trafficking charges after police found 100 kilos of heroin in his vehicle.


December 25: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a tweet posted by opposition MP Lütfü Türkkan about a reported tax immunity granted to a construction company.


December 26: Private television station Olay TV closed down only 26 days after it started broadcasting, due to intense pressure from the ruling AKP government, according to reports.


December 27: The police in Rize detained local leftist politician Uğur Mert on account on his social media posts.


December 27: The police detained Taylan Özgür Karatepe over his social media commentary condemning the alleged rape of an 18-year-old girl in Siirt by a military officer which led to the victim’s suicide.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


December 24: Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu verbally targeted opposition MP and prominent human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu for raising the allegations of undue strip-searches in prisons. Soylu accused Gergerlioğlu of being a “terrorist.” Gergerlioğlu also filed criminal complaints against a local police chief for failure to take action on the allegations.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


December 22: The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s detention since 2016 was politically motivated, ordering his release. President Erdoğan accused the court of trying to replace the country’s judiciary and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called the judgment “meaningless.” On Dec. 26, an Ankara court refused an application for the implementation of the ECtHR judgment.


ECtHR ordered the release of imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş

December 26:Şaban Vatan, who has been searching for the truth about the suspicious death of his 11-year-old daughter for more than two years, was handed down a prison sentence and a fine in a case filed by a former minister of the ruling AKP.


KURDISH MINORITY


December 21: A Diyarbakır court sentenced former HDP MP Leyla Güven to 22 years, three months on terrorism charges. Güven was ousted from the parliament in June. She was sent to prison on Dec. 22.


December 21: The police in İstanbul detained ESP politician Uğur Ok on terrorism charges. Ok was arrested on Dec. 25 after appearing before a court.


December 22: The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s detention since 2016 was politically motivated, ordering his release. President Erdoğan accused the court of trying to replace the country’s judiciary and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called the judgment “meaningless.” On Dec. 26, an Ankara court refused an application for the implementation of the ECtHR judgment.


December 22: The police in İstanbul attacked a demonstration organized to protest the arrest of HDP politician Leyla Güven, using excessive violence against wheelchair-bound HDP MP Musa Piroğlu, and detaining 14 people.


December 22: The police in Balıkesir carried out house raids to detain four local HDP members.


December 23: A Diyarbakır court handed down prison sentences of six and eight years to Rosa Women’s Association members Gülistan Nazlıer and Sevim Coşkun on terrorism charges.


December 23: The police in Diyarbakır carried out a violent house raid to detain four local HDP politicians.


December 23: A study showed that 70 percent of Kurdish youths in Turkey encounter discrimination in their daily lives.


December 23: Authorities launched an investigation into a military conscript who in a video circulating on social media was seen singing in Kurdish.


December 24: The police in Ağrı detained local HDP executive Cemal Akar and HDP member Ceren Barış.


Cemal Akar

December 25: The police in Tunceli detained journalist Gülistan Azak for an investigation launched in 2018. Azak works for the pro-Kurdish JinNews website.


December 25: Sakarya prosecutors decided for a non-prosecution about the apparently racist attack on a group of Kurdish seasonal workers in the city.


MISTREATMENT OF CITIZENS ABROAD


December 24: Germany-based Turkish boxer Ünsal Arık, who is known for his outspoken criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced on social media that he was attacked by Erdoğan supporters.


PRISON CONDITIONS


December 25: Opposition MP Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi drafted a report which found that over the last 10 years, close to 2 million inmates have filed complaints of human rights violations in prison.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


December 23: The European Commission announced that it is extending two refugee assistance programs with Turkey.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


December 22: The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into social media posts and news reports exposing the extensive use of strip-searches in prisons, citing signs of “deliberate” and “organized” action.

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