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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 70

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 579 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 21: Reports revealed that a prison administration in İzmir denied parole to inmate Remziye Polat on the pretext that she did not show “remorse.”


Remziye Polat

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.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION


October 19: The police in Antalya intervened in a demonstration and briefly detained Fatma Karakuzu and Melek Çetinkaya. Karakuzu is the mother of Ayşe Özdoğan, an end-stage cancer patient who is imprisoned over alleged links to the Gülen movement. The two were holding the demonstration to call for Özdoğan’s release.


Activist Melek Çetinkaya (L) and Fatma Karakuzu

October 19: The police in İstanbul intervened in a demonstration in front of a courthouse. Three people were briefly detained.


October 20: The police in Ankara intervened in a demonstration to protest the mass dismissals from public service, briefly detaining four people.


October 20: A Mardin court acquitted five journalists and three others who stood trial over their participation in demonstrations.


October 21: The Constitutional Court found no rights violation in the case of four individuals previously convicted on charges related to the Gezi Park protests of 2013.


October 21: The Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of seven days.


October 22: The police in İstanbul briefly detained 45 students for protesting the government-appointed rector of Boğaziçi University.


October 25: The police in Van intervened in a press briefing organized by local medical chambers, briefly detaining two people.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


October 19: The European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey in the case of Vedat Şorli, who was sentenced to imprisonment for insulting the president. The court urged Turkey to amend the law on insulting the president.


October 19: Airport police in İstanbul briefly detained rapper Önder Doğan (a.k.a. Murda). Doğan is accused of encouraging drug use in some of his songs.


October 19: Van prosecutors launched an investigation into journalist Oktay Candemir due to a social media message. Candemir was summoned by the police for a questioning.


October 19: Prosecutors summoned actress Berna Laçin to testify. She was questioned her social media comments about high food prices.


October 20: An İzmir court began the trial of documentary filmmaker Oktay İnce on charges of insulting the president. The prosecutor demanded İnce’s imprisonment.


Documentary filmmaker Oktay İnce

October 20: An Ankara court ruled to arrest a person for allegedly insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic.


October 20: A Burdur court blocked access to two news reports and a column published by the Evrensel newspaper.


October 20: An Ankara court ruled to block access to two news reports about corruption allegations involving the state-owned Ziraat Bank.


October 20: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to three news reports about bribery allegations implicating high-ranking police chiefs.


October 20: The Bianet news website reported that in the 3rd quarter of the year, 29 journalists suffered physical attacks, 11 were detained and 205 were put on trial, mostly on terrorism-related charges. The authorities blocked access to a total of 248 news articles.


October 21: The police in İzmir detained 17 HDP members due to their social media messages.


October 22: An İstanbul court handed down a five-month suspended sentence to Pınar Yıldırım, a popular social media influencer known as “Pucca,” on charges of insulting men on social media.


Social media influencer Pınar Yıldırım (a.k.a. Pucca)

October 22: An İstanbul court issued a detention warrant against Germany-based musician Ferhat Tunç for allegedly insulting a former prime minister.


Musician Ferhat Tunç

October 22: İstanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into journalist Fırat Fıstık over his reports on the government-appointed rector of Boğaziçi University.


October 22: A Gaziantep court ruled to block access to three news reports about municipal tenders allegedly awarded to a relative of a local district mayor.


October 22: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a column and two news articles about plagiarism allegations implicating an academic.


October 22: Opposition MP Utku Çakırözer reported that in the first nine months of the year state-owned companies published nearly 45 percent of their advertisements on three pro-government TV channels while no advertisements were placed on major government-critical stations.


October 24: Ankara prosecutors launched an investigation into journalist Barış Pehlivan over a column he wrote about the Gendarmerie General Command.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


October 18: Ten foreign embassies in Ankara released a joint statement calling for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. The businessman has been jailed for four years, despite a European Court of Human Rights order for his release. Kavala announced on October 22 that he will no longer attend court hearings or make defense statements because he has lost all hope for a fair trial.


Jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


October 20: The Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU) submitted an expert opinion to the European Court of Human Rights in which it said that the overly broad and vague wording of Turkey’s anti-terror legislation does not satisfy the quality of law and therefore is prone to arbitrary use.


October 22: Imprisoned human rights defender Osman Kavala announced that he will no longer attend court hearings or make defense statements because he has lost all hope for a fair trial. Kavala has been held behind bars for four years despite a European Court of Human Rights order for his release.


KURDISH MINORITY


October 18: A Diyarbakır court sentenced HDP member Mehmet Eşref Mamedoğlu to seven years, six months in prison on terrorism charges.


October 19: An Edirne court sentenced German-Kurdish singer Saide İnaç to three years, one month and 15 days in prison on terrorism charges.


Kurdish singer Saide İnaç (a.k.a. Hozan Cane)

October 19: A Yozgat prison forbade inmates to speak in Kurdish on the phone and interrupted the calls of the inmates who spoke in Kurdish.


October 20: A Diyarbakır court sentenced former district mayor Ayşe Gökkan to 30 years in prison on terrorism charges.


Ayşe Gökkan

October 21: The police in İzmir detained 17 HDP members due to their social media messages.


PRISON CONDITIONS


October 19: A Yozgat prison forbade inmates to speak in Kurdish on the phone and interrupted the calls of the inmates who spoke in Kurdish.


October 20: Reports revealed that an İstanbul prison censored letters sent by jailed academic Nuriye Gülmen. The prison administration banned the letters on the grounds that they were ‘objectionable.’


October 20: A prison administration in Şırnak hindered the treatment and hospitalization of inmates.


October 21: A Samsun prison denied hospitalization to inmates who refused to undergo mouth searches.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


October 19: Member of European Parliament Tineke Strik said in an interview that Turkey cannot be considered a safe country for migrants and asylum seekers. Strik pointed out that the country is not bound by the refugee convention when it comes to non-European nationals.


October 22: Turkish media reported that 13 Moroccan migrants who had illegally crossed into Greece from Turkey were stripped and beaten before they were illegally sent back to Turkey.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


October 19: Reports revealed that Adem Özbey, an inmate held in a prison in Van, was taken out of his ward for a questioning during which he was tortured. Another inmate from the same facility reported that Özbey was not taken to a hospital afterwards.


October 20: Seven inmates who were involuntarily transferred from a Diyarbakır prison to other provinces were subjected to strip-searches. Those who resisted were physically assaulted.


October 20: The guards in an Ankara prison physically assaulted 10 inmates who resisted strip-searches during an involuntary transfer from a Kırıkkale prison.


October 20: A female inmate held in a Mersin prison was reportedly subjected to a sexual harassment by a soldier during a hospitalization. After she reacted to the harassment, she was taken back to prison without receiving her treatment.


October 23: The police in Diyarbakır tortured two people during a house raid to detain them.


October 23: The guards in a Kayseri prison physically assaulted a disabled inmate named Şaban Kaygusuz for resisting a strip-search.


TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION AND VIOLATIONS


October 21: A Stockholm-based NGO released a report on the extrajudicial or unlawful rendition of Turkish government critics living outside Turkey.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


October 20: A female inmate held in a Mersin prison was reportedly subjected to a sexual harassment by a soldier during a hospitalization. After she reacted to the harassment, she was taken back to prison without receiving her treatment.