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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 49

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 263 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.



May 27: Images on social media of Mehmet Emin Özkan, an ailing 83-year-old man incarcerated in a Diyarbakır prison being taken to a hospital in handcuffs caused outrage among human rights groups who demanded his release.


Mehmet Emin Özkan

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.


May 25: Lezgin Tekay, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency, was forced into a vehicle without a license plate by a group of people who introduced themselves as intelligence operatives and coerced into becoming an informant for the state.


Journalist Lezgin Tekay

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


May 24: The police in İstanbul briefly detained Nursel Tanrıverdi while participating in a sit-in protest against the post-coup purge of public sector workers after 2016.


Activist and former public sector teacher Nursel Tanrıverdi

May 25: The police in several provinces detained executives and members of the Health and Social Service Employees Union (SES) over alleged terrorist links.


May 25: The police in Ankara blocked a demonstration held in front of the ruling party provincial headquarters, briefly detaining five people.


May 25: The police in İstanbul detained two people protesting their summary removal from public service during a post-coup purge after 2016. The detainees were released later in the same day.


May 25: The police in Rize blocked a protest against the construction of a stone quarry in an environmentally significant area, briefly detaining two people.


May 26: The police in İstanbul detained a person over a banner that was displayed during a press briefing held at a human rights association’s local office.


May 26: The İzmir Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of seven days.


May 27: Gendarmes and village guards in Van fired shots as villagers protested the opening of a marble quarry. Four people were briefly detained after the intervention.


May 27: The police in Artvin blocked a protest march against quotas on tea, briefly detaining 32 people.


May 28: The police in İstanbul blocked a demonstration held by a youth organization, detaining two participants.


May 28: A report released by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) revealed that at least 4,771 human rights violations took place during protests and demonstrations held in Turkey between 2015 and 2019.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


May 25: Notorious mobster Sedat Peker in a YouTube video admitted that his public death threats to a group of academics who called for a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish problem was aimed at helping the government create a climate of fear.


May 25: Atilla Peker, the brother of convicted crime boss Sedat Peker, confirmed his brother’s recent claims, confessing at a police questioning that the mobster sent him on a mission to kill Turkish-Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adalı in 1996.


Turkish-Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adalı

May 25: Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in an interview that he called his British counterpart to complain about a report in the BBC’s Turkish edition.


May 25: An Aksaray court ruled to block access to news reports about allegations that a district mayor used municipal units for personal affairs.


May 26: A Hakkari court sentenced peace activist Fatma Turan to 10 months, 25 days in prison on charges of provoking hatred and enmity among public and praising crime and criminals, over a speech she made during a demonstration.


May 26: A Van court ruled to block access to news reports about allegations that a local social worker was beaten up by security guards after he refused to stand up in front of a district governor.


May 26: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to 59 social media messages on Facebook and Twitter about an allegation that a construction tycoon bribed public officials to have criminal charges against him dropped.


May 26: An İstanbul court ruled to release journalist Mehmet Aslan who was arrested in January 2021 on terrorism-related charges.


Journalist Mehmet Aslan

May 27: A Manisa court ruled to block access to news reports about tweets involving questions to be asked to the interior minister while he was on the air for a live interview.


May 28: An Ankara court sentenced jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş to two-and-a-half years in prison over his remarks at an earlier court hearing that targeted a public prosecutor who indicted him.


Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş

May 28: İstanbul prosecutors indicted mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, seeking a prison sentence of up to four years, one month on charges of insulting election officials following the cancellation of a vote in İstanbul in 2019.


İstanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu faces a prison sentence for allegedly insulting election officials

May 29: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a column written by journalist Murat Ağırel about alleged transfer of municipal funds to government-friendly artists.


KURDISH MINORITY


May 25: Lezgin Tekay, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency, was forced into a vehicle without a license plate by a group of people who introduced themselves as intelligence operatives and coerced into becoming an informant for the state.


May 25: The police in Antalya detained former Batman mayor Sabri Özdemir as part of a Diyarbakır-based investigation.


May 26: An Iğdır court sentenced former mayor Yaşar Akkuş to seven years, six months in prison on terrorism-related charges. Akkuş was one of the dozens of HDP mayors who were removed from office by the Interior Ministry and replaced by pro-government trustees before standing trial for alleged links to terrorism.


Yaşar Akkuş

May 26: An İstanbul court ruled to release journalist Mehmet Aslan who was arrested in January 2021 on terrorism-related charges. Aslan was imprisoned over his work for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency.


May 28: An Ankara court sentenced jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş to two-and-a-half years in prison over his remarks at an earlier court hearing that targeted a public prosecutor who indicted him.


May 28: A Van court ruled to arrest HDP executive Fırat Keser on terrorism-related charges.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


May 24: Guards at a Kocaeli prison physically assaulted an inmate named Garibe Gezer.


May 25: Amnesty International debunked Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s claims that the group has no findings or reports on allegations of torture in Turkish prisons.


May 26: A police officer in Diyarbakır reportedly broke a 55-year-old woman’s teeth and arm while she protested the detention of her son on May 18.


May 29: Reports revealed that 86 people detained in an operation targeting the Gülen movement in Çanakkale on May 21, among them minors, were interrogated for days and subjected to torture by strappado, battery and threats of rape.


May 30: Guards at a Kocaeli prison physically assaulted an inmate named Cihangir Çeliker.