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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 76

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 269 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 30: Ömer Faruk Turan, 11, died of heart failure without being able to say goodbye to his father, who has been in prison over alleged links to the Gülen movement and who was denied a visit in the hospital where his son was undergoing treatment.


December 4: Reyhan Yalçındağ, the lawyer for jailed Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk said in an interview that her client was experiencing memory loss and was unable to handle her daily needs on her own, reiterating the call for her immediate release.


ARBITRARY DEPRIVATION OF LIFE


November 30: A police officer in İstanbul fatally shot a person who allegedly did not comply with an order to stop. The officer in question was reportedly suspended from duty and arrested.


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 29: The Van Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


November 29: The Hakkari Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


December 2: The police in İstanbul intervened in a demonstration held in support of municipal workers on strike, detaining one person.


December 3: The Interior Ministry launched an investigation into several NGOs for allegedly receiving funds from a Texas-based foundation.


December 3: The Mardin Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


November 29: Diyarbakır courts ruled to block access to three web addresses used by pro-Kurdish ETHA, Umut and Kızılbayrak news websites.


November 30: An İzmir court sentenced documentary filmmaker Oktay İnce to one year, two months, 17 days in prison on charges of insulting the president.


Oktay İnce

November 30: A Hatay court sentenced lawyer Hakan Mazman to one year, two months, 17 days in prison on charges of insulting the president on social media.


November 30: A Kayseri court sentenced a person to one year, two months in prison on charges of insulting the president.


November 30: An İstanbul prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of up to two years, four months for Deniz Yücel, a Turkish-German journalist who is standing trial in absentia for insulting a public official.


Journalist Deniz Yücel

November 30: Manisa police displayed three books authored by jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş among criminal evidence seized in a police raid.


November 30: An Ankara court ruled to block access to three news reports on allegations that a woman who introduced herself as a governor’s office executive threatened people in a traffic disagreement.


December 1: The police detained YouTube journalist Hasan Köksoy and a person who gave him a street interview. The two were arrested by a court due to the interviewee’s remarks about alleged government corruption.


December 1: İstanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into seven executives of the main opposition CHP on charges of insulting the president in a flyer printed by the party about alleged government corruption.


December 2: A court sentenced former CHP deputy Zeynep Altıok Akatlı to 11 months in prison on charges of insulting the president.


Zeynep Altıok Akatlı

December 2: Media outlets critical of the government were prevented from taking part in a ministerial commission meeting to set next year’s minimum wage.


December 2: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a news report on allegations that a foundation close to the president was illegally occupying municipal facilities in İstanbul.


December 2: An Ankara court ruled to block access to three news reports on allegations of nepotism implicating a university rector appointed by the government.


December 2: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to three news reports on nepotism allegations involving a foundation set up by the president’s son.


December 2: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to four news reports on allegations of corruption targeting the president.


December 2: A Rize court ruled to block access to two news reports on allegations involving a local journalism association.


December 3: The police in Hakkari detained journalist Mimar Kaya for filming an argument between police officers and a shuttle bus driver.


December 3: The police raided the house belonging to the mother of Eren Keskin, the Chair of the Human Rights Association (İHD). The police then called Keskin’s lawyer to summon her to testify due to an investigation over a speech she made two-and-a-half years ago.


Eren Keskin

December 4: İstanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into Nurullah Ankut on charges of insulting the president in an article that he wrote.


December 4: The police in Tunceli prevented reporter Cihan Berk from carrying out a street interview.


December 5: The Mardin Governor’s Office banned the planned Kurdish-language staging of theater play “Tartuffe.”


FREEDOM OF RELIGION


December 3: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its annual report, which recommended that the US Department of State include Turkey on its Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. The report said that the Turkish government action, deliberate inaction, and rhetoric continued to fuel a political environment hostile to religious minorities.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


December 3: The Council of Europe announced that it will launch infringement proceedings against Turkey for failing to implement a European Court of Human Rights order for the release of jailed civil society leader Osman Kavala.


December 3: The police raided the house belonging to the mother of Eren Keskin, the Chair of the Human Rights Association (İHD). The police then called Keskin’s lawyer to summon her to testify due to an investigation over a speech she made two-and-a-half years ago.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


November 30: HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced in a parliamentary meeting that a man who was abducted and tortured by Turkish intelligence in 2019 was forced to testify against him and another opposition politician.


November 30: The Arrested Lawyers Initiative released a report which said that data acquired from a smartphone application that Turkish courts accept as evidence of terrorist affiliation are not legal or admissible pieces of evidence but are used by the judiciary as a tool of malicious prosecution.


December 3: The Council of Europe announced that it will launch infringement proceedings against Turkey for failing to implement a European Court of Human Rights order for the release of jailed civil society leader Osman Kavala.


December 4: The Inquiry Commission on State of Emergency Measures refused to reinstate academic Cenk Yiğiter in spite of a Constitutional Court ruling. Yiğiter was dismissed from his job at Ankara University in January 2017.


Cenk Yiğiter

KURDISH MINORITY


November 29: A Manisa court ruled to arrest two HDP members who were detained on November 26 while releasing seven others.


November 29: The top prosecutor at the Supreme Court Appeals submitted an opinion to the Constitutional Court, reiterating his demand for the HDP’s closure as well as bans on several politicians.


November 29: Diyarbakır courts ruled to block access to three web addresses used by pro-Kurdish ETHA, Umut and Kızılbayrak news websites.


November 30: A Mersin court ruled to arrest Düzgün Okutan, an advisor to HDP deputy Fatma Kurtulan.


November 30: Manisa police displayed three books authored by jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş among criminal evidence seized in a police raid.


December 1: The Ministry of National Education fired 21 teachers on account of alleged links to terrorism. The teachers were previously detained as part of an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) the umbrella group of the Kurdish political movement.


December 2: A Muş court sentenced former HDP executive Muhlise Karagüzel to 10 months in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda.


December 2: A Diyarbakır court sentenced activist Makbule Özbek to seven years, six months on terrorism charges, as part of an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the umbrella organization of the Kurdish political movement. Özbek is a peace activist known for her engagement in a popular movement to demand accountability for enforced disappearances in Kurdish provinces in the 1990s.


December 3: A Şırnak court sentenced local Kurdish politician Halil İrmez to nine years in prison on terrorism charges.


December 4: A prison administration in Şanlıurfa launched a disciplinary investigation into an inmate named Mehmet Binici for singing in Kurdish.


December 5: The Mardin Governor’s Office banned the planned Kurdish-language staging of theater play “Tartuffe.”


December 5: The police in Ankara rear-handcuffed and physically assaulted provincial HDP executive Hüseyin Gökoğlu without a detention order.


PRISON CONDITIONS


November 30: A law firm announced that a Bursa court has prolonged the visitation ban imposed on jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan whose lawyers have been prevented from visiting their client for months.


December 3: A Kocaeli prison denied treatment to inmate Aslı Calıhan for refusing to undergo treatment in handcuffs.


December 4: A prison administration in Şanlıurfa launched disciplinary investigations into 20 inmates who previously reported that they were physically assaulted by guards during a ward search. The same prison administration also launched a disciplinary investigation into an inmate named Mehmet Binici for singing in Kurdish.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


December 1: A group of Turkish political asylum seekers were briefly stranded at the land border with Greece while fleeing Turkey. They were rescued by Greek border forces after widespread calls on social media.


December 1: An interpreter who is a European Union resident employed by EU border agency Frontex announced that Greece expelled him to Turkey in a migrant roundup in September.


December 2: Refugees in the northwestern province of Bolu told the media that they have been confronted with an increase in hate crimes since the municipal council approved a discriminatory proposal imposing exorbitant fees on foreigners to access public services in the city.


December 3: A former public prosecutor and his wife, a former court clerk, died after a speedboat carrying them overturned in the Aegean Sea as they were trying to flee to Greece to avoid persecution.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


November 30: The guards in a Trabzon prison physically assaulted an inmate who protested the prison administration’s refusal to deliver winter clothes sent by the inmate’s family.


November 30: HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced in a parliamentary meeting that a man who was abducted and tortured by Turkish intelligence in 2019 was forced to testify against him and another opposition politician.


December 5: The police in Ankara rear-handcuffed and physically assaulted provincial HDP executive Hüseyin Gökoğlu without a detention order.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


December 2: Bianet news website’s monthly male violence monitoring report found that men killed 34 women and inflicted violence on at least 62 women in November.


December 4: The Constitutional Court ruled that the authorities had not taken the necessary precautions to protect a woman who was killed by her husband in 2013.