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Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 93

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 158 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.



ARBITRARY DEPRIVATION OF LIFE


March 28: The police in İstanbul opened fire at a vehicle that allegedly failed to comply with a warning to stop, killing a 23-year-old man who was inside.


April 1: A Diyarbakır court ruled to acquit a police officer who caused the death of a 5-year-old boy with an armored vehicle he was driving.


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


March 28: The police detained two people over their participation in last week’s Newroz celebrations.


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


March 30: A Diyarbakır court sentenced NGO executive Zahit Çiftkuran to seven years, six months in prison on terrorism charges, over his participation in events and funerals.


March 30: The police in İstanbul intervened in a leftist group’s demonstration, briefly detaining 40 people.


March 30: The police in Ankara intervened in a workers’ protest, detaining five people.


March 30: The police in Antalya detained 10 people, including two minors, over their participation in Newroz celebrations. The detainees were released the next day.


March 31: The police in İstanbul briefly detained a person who was demonstrating to call for the release of sick prisoners.


March 31: The police in Ankara intervened in a workers’ protest, detaining six people.


March 31: The gendarmerie in Mardin detained six people over their participation in Newroz celebrations. The detainees were released the next day.


March 31: The gendarmerie in Muğla intervened in a protest against an energy company’s plans to uproot olive trees in a rural area, briefly detaining two people.


March 31: A district governor’s office in İstanbul issued a ban on all outdoor demonstrations for a period of 15 days.


April 1: The police in İstanbul detained one person staging a protest to call for the release of a sick prisoner.


April 2: The Mardin Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days.


April 3: The police in Ankara intervened in a protest against an energy company, briefly detaining eight people.


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


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


March 28: The police in İstanbul physically assaulted journalist Tuba Apaydın who was covering the detention of those celebrating Newroz.


March 28: An Uşak court sentenced opposition politician Muharrem İnce to 11 months, 20 days in prison on charges of insulting the president in a speech. The court then converted the sentence into a monetary fine.


March 28: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a news report about bribery and misconduct allegations implicating local governors and bureaucrats in Gaziantep.


March 29: A report released by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) said that 115 Turkish journalists were subjected to physical violence and a total of 241 journalists appeared in court in 2021 in Turkey. The report also found that three out of every five journalists have received threats during their career.


March 29: A group of ultranationalists in Konya physically assaulted local journalists Umut Yaygır and Özcan Saraç.


March 30: İstanbul prosecutors issued detention warrants for two journalists as part of an investigation into an outlawed Marxist group.


March 30: The police in İstanbul detained journalist Emre Orman as part of an investigation.


Journalist Emre Orman

March 31: An İstanbul court sentenced writer Yavuz Ekinci to one year, six months, 22 days in prison on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, over his social messages and his signature in a declaration.


Writer Yavuz Ekinci

March 31: A Turkish prosecutor asked an İstanbul court to dismiss a case into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and transfer it to Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor known for his criticism of the Saudi government, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in İstanbul in 2018. Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized the move.


Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

April 1: Ankara prosecutors filed a new indictment for jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, seeking up to 5 years in prison on terrorism charges based on a social media post dating back to 2013.


Selahattin Demirtaş

April 1: An İstanbul court imposed a monetary fine on journalist Çiğdem Toker over a column that she penned, upon the complaint of a relative of the president.


Journalist Çiğdem Toker

April 1: Diyarbakır courts ruled to block access to URLs used by pro-Kurdish news platforms Jinnews, Etkin news agency and Özgür Gelecek.


JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


March 29: An annual report released by Amnesty International found, among others, that the Turkish government failed to address “deep flaws in the judicial system” in 2021.


March 31: The Constitutional Court found no violation of rights in the cases of two former mayors from pro-Kurdish parties in Diyarbakır who were removed from office and replaced by government-appointed trustees in 2015 and 2016.


April 1: The Board of Judges and Prosecutors disbarred judge Halil Erkeş and prosecutor Osman Görgünoğlu on account of their alleged ties to terrorism.


KURDISH MINORITY


March 29: The police in Van detained Sinan Kaya, a local HDP executive. Kaya was released on March 31.


March 30: A group of Kurdish students in Muğla were assaulted by a mob in what appears to be a racist attack.


March 31: The Constitutional Court found no violation of rights in the cases of two former mayors from pro-Kurdish parties in Diyarbakır who were removed from office and replaced by government-appointed trustees in 2015 and 2016.


April 1: Ankara prosecutors filed a new indictment for jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, seeking up to 5 years in prison on terrorism charges based on a social media post dating back to 2013.


April 1: Diyarbakır courts ruled to block access to URLs used by pro-Kurdish news platforms Jinnews, Etkin news agency and Özgür Gelecek.


PRISON CONDITIONS


March 28: A female inmate held in an İzmir prison announced that women and children in her ward were suffering from overcrowding, sickness and neglect.


March 28: Media reports said that a Çorum prison was keeping 45 inmates in a quarantine ward designed for 20 and that some inmates had to sleep on the floor.


March 29: Şebnem Korur Fincancı, a prominent human rights advocate and doctor of forensic medicine, said that the Council of Forensic Medicine’s (ATK) status as the sole authority to determine whether sick inmates are fit to remain in prison poses a serious problem. ATK is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and the doubts over its independence and credibility has grown in recent years as more and more critically ill prisoners have died behind bars.


March 30: Reports revealed that a Yozgat prison has been keeping inmate Seyit Mehmet Ünal in solitary confinement for five years.


March 30: An Adana prison restricted inmates’ allotted visitation times and denied hospitalization to those who refused to undergo mouth searches.


March 31: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey violated the right to respect for private life of 14 inmates by uploading their incoming and outgoing correspondence onto a national judicial network server.


April 2: A Şanlıurfa prison restricted inmates’ rights to video call.


April 3: An İstanbul prison denied treatment to sick and partially handicapped inmate Özgür Sinan Menteş.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


March 30: The Greek coast guard pushed back 12 Turkish political asylum seekers who had arrived in the islands of Chios and Samos. The asylum seekers were arrested and sent to prison in Turkey after they were pushed back.


Turkish-Greek borders have in recent years become the scene of systematic pushbacks of migrants

March 31: Opposition MP and prominent human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced on social media that a Syrian refugee family was assaulted by a racist mob and that a child was injured as a result of the attack.


March 31: Mehdi Davud, chairman of the Syrian Associations Platform, announced that thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegally deported from Turkey.


March 31: Media reports said based on education ministry data that 35 percent of the 1.1 million Syrian refugee children in Turkey are unable to attend school.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


March 28: Diyarbakır prosecutors ordered collection of blood samples from 42 minors who were detained by the police during Newroz celebrations.


March 28: The police in İstanbul physically assaulted and verbally threatened three leftist activists whom they kept in unofficial detention for four hours.


March 28: The police in İstanbul physically assaulted journalist Tuba Apaydın who was covering the detention of those celebrating Newroz.


March 29: Besna Daşçi, a distributor for the Yeni Yaşam newspaper, was verbally threatened by individuals who introduced themselves as police officers.


March 30: The guards in a Diyarbakır prison physically assaulted inmates.


March 30: An inmate named Ramazan Turan was subjected to a strip-search in a Çorum prison during an involuntary transfer from Diyarbakır.


March 31: The gendarmerie in Batman tortured 15 people who were in custody.


April 1: The guards in an İstanbul women’s prison confiscated inmates’ personal belongings during a war search. In the same prison, an inmate named Sibel Gölbaşı was visited by intelligence officers who coerced her into becoming an informant.


April 3: The guards in a Diyarbakır prison physically assaulted inmates.


April 3: Mehmet Emin Çam, a 70-year-old sick inmate in a Batman prison, was held in a one-person cell for 17 days and was forced to stay up during head count.