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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 73

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 162 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.



November 9: MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu reported that Dudu Arduç, a four-month-pregnant woman, was being kept in jail in contravention of regulations. The 29-year-old woman is jailed for alleged links to the Gülen movement. Turkish laws on execution of sentences stipulate that even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence must be postponed.


Dudu Arduç

November 11: The lawyers of jailed Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk reiterated their call for her release, citing her deteriorating health condition. The lawyers also disclosed that she is suffering from early-onset dementia.


Aysel Tuğluk

November 12: The police in İstanbul detained an Israeli tourist couple for allegedly taking a picture of the president’s house from a touristic tower.


November 12: The authorities continued to keep behind bars critically ill Ayşe Özdoğan, despite a second medical report recommending her release.


Ayşe Özdoğan

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


November 8: The police in İstanbul detained 11 people protesting the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) at a university.


November 8: The police detained seven executives from pro-Kurdish labor unions, chambers of commerce and associations for solidarity with relatives of prisoners as part of a Diyarbakır-based investigation.


November 9: The Tunceli Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


November 12: The police in İstanbul briefly detained three people protesting the government-appointed rector of Boğaziçi University.


November 12: The lawyers of two students arrested over Boğaziçi University protests announced that their clients were placed in one-person cells in an İstanbul prison.


November 13: The police in İstanbul detained six people holding a demonstration to protest the rapid decline in the value of Turkey’s currency.


November 14: The police in Van briefly detained a vendor protesting high prices.


November 14: The police in Muğla detained a person protesting a fossil fuel plant. The detainee was released the next day.


November 14: The Tunceli Governor’s Office banned a commemoration event, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


November 8: İzmir prosecutors launched an investigation into author Orhan Pamuk on allegations of insulting the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the Turkish flag in his latest book.


November 10: Şanlıurfa prosecutors launched an investigation into Emine Şenyaşar for allegedly insulting the police. Şenyaşar has been staging a sit-in protest in front of a courthouse for months to demand justice for a family member who was killed by a person close to the ruling party.


November 10: Hifzullah Kutum, an academic who was detained and arrested on November 6 over a “Kurdistan” post on social media, was released from pre-trial detention.


November 10: A quarterly report released by the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) found that 15 journalists were detained and 48 others suffered physical attacks in the third quarter of 2021.


November 11: An İstanbul court sentenced Kurdish singer Veysi Ermiş to one year, six months in prison on terrorism charges, over a song that contains the word “Kurdistan.” The court deferred Ermiş’s sentence.


Veysi Ermiş

November 11: The police in İstanbul detained Kurdish musician Mehmet Ali Basut (a.k.a. Brindar Ali) on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda and insulting the president. Basut was arrested and sent to prison after appearing before a court.


November 11: A district governor’s office in İstanbul banned a theater play, citing public safety reasons.


November 11: Tunceli prosecutors ordered the removal of banners prepared by leftist groups about the anniversary of a local rebellion.


November 12: The Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures, an appeals commission set up to review individual complaints emanating from the 2016-2018 state of emergency and deemed as a valid domestic remedy by the European Court of Human Rights, rejected the appeals of 37 more academics who were fired from their universities for signing a peace declaration about the conflict in the predominantly Kurdish southeast.


November 12: An İstanbul court imposed a media blackout on a femicide.


November 13: The police in Antalya briefly detained local HDP executive İsmail İşli for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda on social media.


November 14: A district governor’s office in İstanbul banned a Kurdish-language stand-up show without a reason.


November 14: The police in İstanbul briefly detained an Israeli correspondent who was reporting about the detention of an Israeli tourist couple accused of espionage.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


November 11: The Council of State, the highest administrative court, ruled for a stay of execution of a regulation ordering police officers to stop people from recording videos while law enforcement is carrying out its duties.


November 12: An Ankara court rejected the appeal of Zabit Kişi for an investigation into his allegations of torture. Kişi was abducted in Kazakhstan by intelligence operatives and rendered to Turkey in September 2017. Before formally appearing before a court, he was held in unofficial detention for months.


Zabit Kişi

November 12: The Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures rejected the appeals of 37 more academics who were fired from their universities for signing a peace declaration about the conflict in the predominantly Kurdish southeast.


November 13: A district governor’s office in Hatay refused to provide assistance to the family of a Rüveyda Tekgöz, a 16-year-old autistic girl, because her father was fired from his public sector job with a decree-law.


Rüveyda Tekgöz

November 13: A municipality in Samsun refused to give a dismissed civil servant a property tax reduction available to all eligible citizens, citing instructions from the Finance Ministry.


KURDISH MINORITY


November 8: The police in four provinces detained 12 pro-Kurdish political party executives as well as seven executives from pro-Kurdish labor unions, chambers of commerce and associations for solidarity with relatives of prisoners as part of a Diyarbakır-based investigation.


November 10: Hifzullah Kutum, an academic who was detained and arrested on November 6 over a “Kurdistan” post on social media, was released from pre-trial detention.


November 11: The police in İstanbul detained Kurdish musician Mehmet Ali Basut (a.k.a. Brindar Ali) on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda and insulting the president. Basut was arrested and sent to prison after appearing before a court.


November 11: An İstanbul court sentenced Kurdish singer Veysi Ermiş to one year, six months in prison on terrorism charges, over a song that contains the word “Kurdistan.” The court deferred Ermiş’s sentence.


November 11: A Diyarbakır court sentenced Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, to two and a half years in prison for “obtaining a counterfactual health report.”


Başak Demirtaş

November 12: An Adıyaman court ruled to arrest Behçet Yıldırım, a former HDP lawmaker who was detained on terrorism charges last week.


November 12: A Malatya court sentenced three members of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) to six years, three months in prison on terrorism charges.


November 13: The police in Antalya briefly detained local HDP executive İsmail İşli for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda on social media.


November 14: A district governor’s office in İstanbul banned a Kurdish-language stand-up show without a reason.


OTHER MINORITIES


November 11: An Ankara court convicted the owner of a restaurant and its employee for refusing service to and insulting three trans individuals.


PRISON CONDITIONS


November 8: A prison administration in Adana denied hospitalization to inmates who refused to undergo mouth searches and treatment in handcuffs.


November 9: A prison administration in Balıkesir interrupted inmate İlyas Arat’s phone call with his family because “his hand was in his pocket.”


November 11: Reports revealed that a Kayseri prison has been denying vitamin B1 supplements to journalist Elif Ersoy who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months for an end to rights violations behind bars.


November 12: The lawyers of two students arrested over Boğaziçi University protests announced that their clients were placed in one-person cells in an İstanbul prison.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


November 10: Greece accused Turkey’s coast guard of escorting and attempting to push into Greek waters a boat of migrants who were trying to illegally reach Greece.


November 11: Tanju Özcan, the mayor of Bolu, announced that he would propose to the city council to raise the marriage fees to TL 100,000 (€8,700) for foreigners who wish to get married, as part of his policy to discourage migrants from settling in the province.


November 12: The Migration Management Directorate General announced that 45 Syrians who were detained after sharing videos on social media to condemn racism and discrimination will be deported.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


November 8: Photographs released by the administration of an İstanbul prison revealed that imprisoned educator Orhan İnandı still cannot use his right arm months after the torture and inhuman treatment he suffered. İnandı was rendered to Turkey from Kyrgyzstan through an intelligence operation earlier this year.


Orhan İnandı

November 11: The guards in a Gümüşhane prison physically assaulted two inmates during a ward search.


November 12: An Ankara court rejected the appeal of Zabit Kişi for an investigation into his allegations of torture. Kişi was abducted in Kazakhstan by intelligence operatives and rendered to Turkey in September 2017. Before formally appearing before a court, he was held in unofficial detention for months.


November 12: The president introduced amendments to a 2020 regulation on the execution of searches in prisons and detention centers, replacing the words “strip-search” with “detailed search.” The development came after numerous complaints on social media about the arbitrary and systematic recourse to the practice, which had been denied by government officials.


November 14: A university student in Van announced that he was unofficially interrogated by people who introduced themselves as police officers and that he was coerced into becoming an informant for the authorities.


TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION AND VIOLATIONS


November 8: Photographs released by the administration of an İstanbul prison revealed that imprisoned educator Orhan İnandı still cannot use his right arm months after the torture and inhuman treatment he suffered. İnandı was rendered to Turkey from Kyrgyzstan through an intelligence operation earlier this year.


November 10: The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria said that a Turkish drone strike in Qamishli killed three civilians.


November 12: An Ankara court rejected the appeal of Zabit Kişi for an investigation into his allegations of torture. Kişi was abducted in Kazakhstan by intelligence operatives and rendered to Turkey in September 2017. Before formally appearing before a court, he was held in unofficial detention for months.