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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 44

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 152 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 20: Abdülazim Özdemir, a 49-year-old engineer who was diagnosed with liver cancer during his 24-month incarceration, died after a belated release from prison. Özdemir was jailed on terrorism related charges over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.


Abdülazim Özdemir

April 23: Gümüşhane prosecutors dropped the investigation in the case of former police chief Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu who was found dead in a prison quarantine cell after showing symptoms of Covid-19.


Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu

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 19: The police in Batman detained 13 people for attending Newroz celebrations. The detainees were released on probation on April 23.


April 19: The police in İstanbul blocked a worker’s protest, detaining five people.


April 19: The İstanbul Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 19: The Trabzon Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of seven days.


April 19: An İstanbul prosecutor indicted 97 students who took part in Boğaziçi University protests.


April 20: The police in İstanbul briefly detained two people holding a protest to call for the release of a sick prisoner.


April 20: The Siirt Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


April 21: The police in İstanbul blocked a workers’ protest, briefly detaining at least 30 people.


April 21: The police in İstanbul briefly detained two people holding a protest to call for the release of a sick prisoner.


April 22: The police in İstanbul intervened in a press briefing held on the occasion of the upcoming International Workers’ Day, briefly detaining 41 people.


April 25: The gendarmes in Rize detained 15 environmental activists protesting against the construction of a quarry.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


April 19: An İstanbul court handed down a suspended prison sentence of 10 months to journalist Erol Mütercimler over his remarks on a TV program.


Journalist Erol Mütercimler

April 20: Van prosecutors indicted freelance journalist Ruşen Takva, seeking a prison sentence of up to 18 years for attending the release of a press statement by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP).


Journalist Ruşen Takva

April 20: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its 2021 World Press Freedom Index in which Turkey was ranked 153rd out of 180 countries.


April 20: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a web address used by the Mezopotamya news agency, the 31th such ban on the pro-Kurdish outlet.


April 21: Ankara prosecutors launched an investigation into opposition MP Engin Altay on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


Opposition MP Engin Altay

April 21: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed an appeal against a recent ruling by an İstanbul court to acquit veteran actors Müjdat Gezen and Metin Akpınar of charges of insulting him.


Actors Müjdat Gezen and Metin Akpınar

April 21: The Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) banned access to JinNews, the 24th such ban imposed on the pro-Kurdish agency since its establishment in 2017.


April 21: RTÜK, the official media regulator, imposed monetary sanctions on KRT TV and Halk TV broadcaster over the remarks of guests criticizing the government.


April 22: A Balıkesir court ruled to block access to news reports about the son of a former ruling party deputy who was summoned to testify in 2014 for allegedly receiving weed in a box.


April 22: The police in İstanbul detained seven left-wing activists who were handing out fliers about the upcoming International Labor Day as well as eight others hanging a banner.


April 25: The police in Konya detained a person for allegedly insulting Atatürk, the founder of the republic.


KURDISH MINORITY


April 20: Van prosecutors indicted freelance journalist Ruşen Takva, seeking a prison sentence of up to 18 years for attending the release of a press statement by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP).


April 20: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a web address used by the Mezopotamya news agency, the 31th such ban on the pro-Kurdish outlet.


April 21: The Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) banned access to JinNews, the 24th such ban imposed on the pro-Kurdish agency since its establishment in 2017.


April 21: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to web pages used by Umut Gazetesi and Yeni Demokrasi news websites.


April 22: Statistics released by the Ministry of Health demonstrated that predominantly Kurdish provinces have the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the country.


PRISON CONDITIONS


April 22: Opposition MP Züleyha Gülüm claimed in a written parliamentary question to Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül that prison parole boards discriminate against political prisoners who are eligible for parole.


April 23: Gümüşhane prosecutors dropped the investigation in the case of former police chief Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu who was found dead in a prison quarantine cell after showing symptoms of Covid-19.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


April 20: A Somali restaurant and its employees were attacked by a mob in Ankara after they were targeted by anti-migrant reporting by the Sözcü newspaper.


A Somali restaurant was attacked following anti-migrant media report that targeted the neighborhood

April 21: A hospital in İstanbul has refused to discharge the newborn baby of a refugee family for the past four months because the family has been unable to pay the hospital bill.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


April 21: The police in İstanbul verbally threatened and physically assaulted a person who was released on probation after being detained for attending Boğaziçi University protests and who was visiting the police station as part of the judicial supervision.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


April 21: A Deutsche Welle report revealed that Turkish police departments are giving incorrect and conflicting information to women who request assistance and protection against violent and abusive partners.