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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 68

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 306 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.



October 4: The authorities refused to postpone the execution of the prison sentence of critically ill Ayşe Özdoğan, who was arrested on October 2 and sent to prison on a terrorism conviction handed down over her alleged links to the Gülen movement.


Ayşe Özdoğan

October 4: An Antalya court ruled to arrest a pregnant woman who was detained over alleged links to the Gülen movement, in violation of the provisions of the Turkish legislation which stipulate that even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence must be postponed.


October 6: Reports revealed that a Düzce prison has been refusing to release Atilla Coşkun, a critically ill inmate, despite having completed his sentence six months ago. Coşkun is still being held behind bars due to previously imposed disciplinary penalties.


ARBITRARY DEPRIVATION OF LIFE


October 7: The Constitutional Court ruled that the death of a prisoner due to a deteriorating medical condition in an Ankara prison in 2015 violated his right to life and the government’s obligation to protect lives.


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


No news has emerged of Yusuf Bilge Tunç, a former public sector worker who was sacked from his job by a decree-law during the 2016-2018 state of emergency and who was reported missing as of August 6, 2019 in what appears to be one of the latest cases in a string of suspected enforced disappearance of government critics since 2016.


October 6: Two people in İstanbul announced at a press conference that they were briefly abducted by people who introduced themselves as police officers who subjected them to a violent interrogation.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION


October 4: A district governor in Samsun removed from office two neighborhood mukhtars over a protest against a government-led expropriation.


October 4: The Mardin Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


October 5: The police in İstanbul physically assaulted journalist Fatoş Erdoğan while she was covering a student protest in Boğaziçi University.


October 6: The police in İstanbul detained 10 university students who were trying to make a public statement against the president’s accusations against them. Two of the students were later arrested by a court.


October 6: The police in Ankara briefly detained three activists who were spray painting slogans on a wall.


October 6: The police in Diyarbakır detained 13 people for allegedly preparing to organize a demonstration.


October 7: The police in İstanbul detained seven university students protesting the detention of students the day before.


October 7: The police in İzmir and Manisa detained 12 people, including a local HDP executive and an executive of an NGO established for solidarity with relatives of prisoners.


October 7: The police in Ankara detained activist Merve Demirel during a protest against mass dismissal of public sector workers in the aftermath of a 2016 coup.


October 7: The İstanbul Governor’s Office banned a demonstration planned by doctors’ associations.


October 8: Naci İnci, the rector of the Boğaziçi University who was appointed to his position by the president, filed a complaint with the police about students who took part in protests against his appointment.


October 8: An Ankara court acquitted 18 students who stood trial for being involved in a pride event in a university.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


October 4: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news reports about the İstanbul municipality’s debts to a construction company.


October 4: An Eskişehir court ruled to block access to news reports about promotions within the police and gendarmerie.


October 5: According to a monthly report published by opposition MP Utku Çakırözer, at least 45 journalists appeared before a judge and eight journalists were prevented from news follow-up in September.


October 5: A monthly report released by the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) said that at least two women journalists in Turkey were physically assaulted by the police while following up on news in September.


October 5: The authorities blocked access to news reports about a man who was seen attacking anti-government protesters with a machete in 2013.


October 6: The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) released its Trial Monitoring Report, noting an increase in the terrorism charges against journalists based on the use of evidence linked to their professional activities.


October 6: The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the far-right partner of Turkey’s ruling party, drafted a bill designed to restrict the functioning of media outlets and reporters receiving direct or indirect funding from abroad.


October 7: The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) launched an investigation into Fox TV over the remarks of Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who criticized the arbitrary Covid-19 restrictions in prisons which left her daughters unable to visit their father for 19 months.


Başak Demirtaş

October 7: An İstanbul court acquitted journalists Canan Coşkun and Veli Açar who were standing trial for reporting on the case of Berkin Elvan, a 14-year-old child who was killed by the police during a protest in 2013.


October 7: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to news reports about bribery allegations implicating high-ranking police chiefs.


October 8: An Ankara court sentenced photographer and writer Mehmet Özer to one year, three months in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, over his social media posts in which he shared photographs from a leftist event.


Mehmet Özer

October 8: Ankara prosecutors indicted opposition politician Canan Kaftancıoğlu, seeking up to two years, four months in prison on charges of insulting Fahrettin Altun, the president’s communications director, over her comments on allegedly unlicensed construction at Altun’s house in İstanbul.


Canan Kaftancıoğlu

October 10: The police in Rize briefly detained a man named Çağlayan Bozacı for allegedly insulting the president during a commemoration event.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


October 8: An İstanbul court began the re-trial of jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, ruling to keep him behind bars despite a standing European Court of Human Rights order for his release.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


October 5: The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) disbarred 10 prosecutors and three judges due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.


October 8: An opinion poll showed that a majority of 69 percent in Turkey do not trust the country’s judicial system.


KURDISH MINORITY


October 4: A Hakkari court sentenced Ahmet Öner, a local HDP member who had died four years ago, to eight years, nine months in prison on terrorism charges.


October 5: The security forces in Bitlis detained eight people, including local HDP executives Aziz Başboğa and İhsan Deniz.


October 5: A simultaneous translation service introduced by the parliament excluded the Kurdish language, the second most spoken language in the country.


October 7: The police in İzmir and Manisa detained 12 people, including a local HDP executive and an executive of an NGO established for solidarity with relatives of prisoners.


October 7: The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) launched an investigation into Fox TV over the remarks of Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who criticized the arbitrary Covid-19 restrictions in prisons which left her daughters unable to visit their father for 19 months.


PRISON CONDITIONS


October 5: The chairpersons of the İstanbul Medical Chamber and İstanbul Bar Association announced at a press conference that Covid-19 restrictions that are still effect in Turkish prisons, despite their elimination elsewhere, lead to serious rights violations, including undue and lengthy restrictions on visitation rights.


October 5: Reports revealed that a Samsun prison has been denying medical treatment for five months to an inmate named Selami Keleş who is suffering from an eye problem.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


October 5: Reports in the media said that a large number of Syrian residents in İzmir left their homes after suffering a racist attack on September 30.


October 7: The police in İstanbul detained several migrant workers for deportation on the grounds that they had come to Turkey illegally.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


October 6: Garibe Gezer, a prisoner in Kocaeli, was severely tortured and subjected to a sexual assault by the guards.


Garibe Gezer

October 8: Two students who were arrested over their participation in Boğaziçi University protests were reportedly subjected to mistreatment.


October 8: A video circulating on Turkish social media showed İstanbul municipal police using excessive force on a street vendor selling fruit.


October 9: Reports said that the guards in a Şanlıurfa prison assaulted 80 inmates and that the prison administration did not offer treatment to those who were injured as a result.


October 10: The guards in a Tekirdağ prison physically assaulted eight inmates who resisted to strip-searches during an involuntary transfer from another prison. The victims were also prevented from documenting the violence they were subjected to.


TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION AND VIOLATIONS


October 5: Reports revealed that the Turkish Embassy in London spied on Turkish citizens in the UK and forwarded an illegal profiling list to Ankara, which led to their prosecution in Turkey.

October 6: Former opposition MP Eren Erdem announced that his 7-year-old son who is receiving treatment in Berlin was being bullied by ruling party supporters.


Eren Erdem

October 8: A UN fact-finding mission on Libya said that Turkey facilitated the recruitment of Syrian child soldiers aged between 15 and 18 years old, to fight for its ally in the Libyan conflict.


October 9: A drone strike suspected to be carried out by Turkey in Northern Iraq allegedly killed a civilian woman.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


October 6: Bianet news website’s monthly male violence report found that men killed at least 26 women and inflicted violence of at least 65 in September.