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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 43

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 224 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement. In October 2020, a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) opinion said that widespread or systematic imprisonment of individuals with alleged links to the group may amount to crimes against humanity. Solidarity with OTHERS has compiled a detailed database to monitor the Gülen-linked mass detentions since a failed coup in July 2016.



April 12: Kemal Gökhan Günel, a medical doctor in Osmaniye, was detained and rear-handcuffed after refusing to examine a local prosecutor without an appointment.


ARBITRARY DEPRIVATION OF LIFE


April 14: A report said that at least 10 people have suspiciously died during their compulsory military service since the beginning of 2021 and that their deaths were not investigated by the authorities.


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


No news has emerged of Yusuf Bilge Tunç and Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, former public sector workers who were sacked from their jobs by decree-laws during the 2016-2018 state of emergency and who were reported missing respectively as of August 6, 2019 and December 29, 2020, in what appear to be the latest cases in a string of suspected enforced disappearance of government critics since 2016.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


April 13: The police in İzmir briefly detained four women protesting Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention on combating domestic violence.


April 14: The police in Kocaeli blocked a workers’ protest, briefly detaining 14 people.


April 15: The police in İstanbul blocked a workers’ protest, briefly detaining eight people.


April 15: The police in Ankara briefly detained eight activists handing out flyers about International Workers’ Day celebrations.


April 15: The police in İstanbul intervened in a demonstration by a medical association to call on the government to tighten coronavirus restrictions to stop the latest surge in infections and fatalities.


April 15: The authorities in Mardin briefly detained a person for attending a protest against an urban renewal project.


April 15: The Kocaeli Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 16: The police in İstanbul blocked a workers’ protest, briefly detaining 10 people.


April 16: The Hakkari Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


April 16: The Denizli Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 16: The Aydın Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 16: The Edirne Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 14 days.


April 16: The Kartal District Governor’s Office in İstanbul issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 17: The Van Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


April 12: A monthly press freedom report found that at least 79 journalist appeared in court in March.


April 12: Courts ruled to release under judicial supervision 14 retired admirals who were detained after openly criticizing the government’s plans to build a canal in İstanbul.


April 13: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned Turkey for the imprisonment of journalists Ahmet Altan and Murat Aksoy on charges related to a coup attempt in 2016. Altan, who had been held behind bars since 2016, was released the next day.


Journalist Ahmet Altan

April 13: Diyarbakır prosecutors indicted journalist Cihan Ölmez for alleged terrorism propaganda, over social media commentary about the curfews imposed in the predominantly Kurdish province of Şırnak in 2015 and 2016.


Journalist Cihan Ölmez

April 13: A Bursa court ruled to block access to news reports about a public school teacher who celebrated Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention on social media.


April 14: Upon orders by prosecutors, the police in several provinces removed the banners of an opposition party about the alleged erosion of Central Bank reserves.


April 14: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a web address used by the Mezopotamya news agency.


April 14: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news reports about a pro-government university rector’s son who was appointed to the presidency without an exam.


April 14: An Edirne court ruled to acquit journalists Naci Kaya and İdris Sayılğan, who were charged with entering a forbidden military zone, after reporting on the situation of the migrants heading towards the border with Greece during a migration crisis last year.


April 14: Media regulator RTÜK imposed a monetary fine against Halk TV over a news report.


April 15: An İstanbul prosecutor demanded 2,445 years in prison for former TV executive Hidayet Karaca.


Former TV executive Hidayet Karaca

April 15: Ankara prosecutors drafted a summary of proceedings against journalist and independent opposition MP Ahmet Şık, seeking to lift his parliamentary legal immunity due to his support for the Boğaziçi University protests.


Journalist and MP Ahmet Şık

April 16: A court ordered the arrest of a social media user in Konya on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, over his criticism of a Turkish military operation in Iraq.


April 16: Genco Erkal, a veteran stage actor and director, was summoned to testify on allegations that he insulted the president on social media.


Actor and director Genco Erkal

April 16: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to several news reports about former finance minister Berat Albayrak’s alleged involvement in the Paradise Papers scandal.


April 16: A Muğla court ruled to block access to news reports about a singer who filed for a divorce from a Turkish-Iranian businessman who was prosecuted in the United States for violating sanctions against Iran on behalf of the Turkish government.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


April 14: The son of imprisoned journalist Hidayet Karaca announced that his father’s pension was confiscated by the authorities. Karaca has been held behind bars since December 2014 on terrorism-related charges.


April 12: Kemal Gökhan Günel, a medical doctor in Osmaniye, was detained and rear-handcuffed after refusing to examine a local prosecutor without an appointment.


KURDISH MINORITY


April 14: A Diyarbakır court sentenced local HDP executive Hülya Alökmen to 10 years, six months in prison on terrorism charges.


Hülya Alökmen

April 14: The police in Kocaeli detained former HDP provincial executive Kamuran Onay. The detainee was released to house arrest the next day.


April 14: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a web address used by the Mezopotamya news agency.


April 15: A Van court sentenced former HDP district co-mayor Yıldız Çetin to seven years, six months on terrorism charges.


Former co-mayor Yıldız Çetin

April 16: Rahim Gören, a city council member in Ağrı, was removed from office by the Ministry of Interior.


April 16: MP Hüda Kaya said that the remains of 261 alleged PKK members were buried in a mass grave next to a sewage line in an İstanbul cemetery and not returned to their families.


PRISON CONDITIONS


April 14: A prison administration in Van withheld a letter and an article sent to jailed journalist Nedim Türfent.


Journalist Nedim Türfent

April 16: The justice ministry admitted in response to a petition submitted by an opposition deputy that overcrowding has occasionally occurred in some of Turkey’s prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, the government passed an early release legislation to ease the overcrowding behind bars, which was criticized for excluding political prisoners.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


April 12: A Chechen migrant woman held at a migrant removal center in Kocaeli lost her 11-month-old baby with Down syndrome as a result of lack of treatment.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


April 14: More than 30 local governors, who were detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of an investigation by Ankara prosecutors, were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and torture in police custody in Ankara.


April 15: The gendarmes in Diyarbakır physically assaulted a person over a slogan written on a wall.


April 16: Fabien Azoulay, a gay and Jewish French national who is serving a prison sentence in Giresun for buying drugs online, was tortured by fellow inmates because of his sexual orientation in addition to being harassed, mistreated and threatened on a daily basis.


Fabien Azoulay

WOMEN’S RIGHTS


April 16: A total of 1,687 women subjected to various types of domestic violence sought help from the Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter in 2020.


April 17: An opposition party claimed that 27 women were killed by men in Turkey in the one month since the president pulled the country out of the İstanbul Convention on combating domestic violence.