Turkey Rights Monitor - Issue 42

ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 329 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.



April 5: Şeyma Alıcı, the wife of Veysel Alıcı who was arrested in February on charges of links to the Gülen movement despite his lymphoma, said her husband’s health is deteriorating by the day in jail.


Veysel Alıcı

April 7: Social media users conducted a hashtag campaign calling on authorities to release Sabriye Dağdeviren, the mother of 11-year-old leukemia patient Hakan, who is battling the disease alone in a hospital. Both of Hakan’s parents were arrested in 2018 for alleged links to the Gülen movement.


11-year-old Hakan Dağdeviren

April 8: A report published by the Council of Europe said that Turkey has the highest incarceration rate among member states, with a rate of 357.2 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants.


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


No news has emerged of Yusuf Bilge Tunç and Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, former public sector workers who were sacked from their jobs by decree-laws during the 2016-2018 state of emergency and who were reported missing respectively as of August 6, 2019 and December 29, 2020, in what appear to be the latest cases in a string of suspected enforced disappearance of government critics since 2016.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


April 6: The authorities deported four Iranian refugees for joining protests against Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention.


April 6: The police in Ankara detained four people while hanging banners in support of Boğaziçi University protests.


April 6: The Mardin Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 30 days.


April 7: The İskenderun District Governor’s Office in Hatay issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of seven days.


April 8: The police in Kocaeli blocked a workers’ protest, briefly detaining 36 people.


April 8: The police in Hatay blocked an environmental protest against the construction of a quarry, briefly detaining four people.


April 10: A monthly report by opposition MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that the police intervened in at least 25 demonstrations in March, detaining at least 324 people.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


April 5: The police detained 10 retired admirals after they released a joint statement criticizing government officials’ remarks questioning Turkey’s commitment to the 1936 Montreux Convention.


April 5: The police in Diyarbakır detained journalist Beritan Canözer from the Jinnews agency.


Journalist Beritan Canözer

April 5: The Presidential Communications Directorate refused to renew the press cards of 1,371 journalists.


April 5: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a news report involving video footage of an alleged act of bribery during an expropriation.


April 5: A Tokat court ruled to block access to a news report about a local municipality that faced legal action due to failure to pay its debt.


April 6: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to three websites used by the Jin news agency to publish news. The news agency was previously banned on terrorism charges.


April 6: The Ministry of Interior announced that in March 2021 a total of 5,478 people were investigated over their social media messages, 261 were detained and 11 were arrested.


April 8: Van prosecutors drafted a new indictment against journalist Oktay Candemir, charging him with spreading terrorist propaganda.


Journalist Oktay Candemir

April 8: A Kars court acquitted journalist Selda Manduz of terrorism charges.


April 9: A new regulation published in the Official Gazette banned students convicted of insulting the president from state dormitory facilities.


April 9: Image-sharing platform Pinterest announced that it will appoint a local representative to Turkey in line with a controversial social media law bringing more restrictions on platforms.


April 9: The police in Artvin raided the offices of the Left Party due to a banner protesting Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention and briefly detained five party members.


The Left Party office in Artvin

April 9: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a news report and tweets about a previous access ban, which was imposed on news reports about the alleged involvement of former finance minister Berat Albayrak in the “Paradise Papers” scandal.


April 9: Bursa prosecutors launched an investigation into the installation of banners on billboards by an opposition party about central bank reserves, alleging the insult of the president. Prosecutors in Bursa, Kastamonu and Edirne ordered the removal of the banner.


The billboards that become the target of an investigation in Bursa

April 10: A monthly report by opposition MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that five members of the press faced investigations; eight journalists, authors or publishers were convicted; six members of the press were detained in March. The report also found that authorities blocked access to 129 URLs, which included links to news reports.


April 10: An İstanbul court ruled to block access to a freedom of expression monitor’s report on a previous access block imposed on news reports about public tenders awarded to a friend of the president’s son.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


April 5: An Ankara court ruled to release activist Nazan Bozkurt who has been arrested pending trial since August 2020, while keeping behind bars activists Alev Şahin and Mehmet Dersulu who are standing trial on the same charges related to their protests.


Activist Nazan Bozkurt

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


April 6: The brother of Nadira Kadirova, a young woman from Uzbekistan who was found dead in the home of a ruling party deputy, called on the authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of his sister. Ankara prosecutors has deemed Kadirova’s death a suicide and an appeal that the family filed with the Constitutional Court has been pending for 10 months.


Deputy Şirin Ünal and Nadira Kadirova who was found dead in his house

April 6: A report by the Diyarbakır Bar Association said that at least 69 lawyers faced investigations and prosecutions over their professional activities in 2020.


April 7: Amnesty International released its annual report reviewing the situation of human rights around the world, which said that Turkey continued to apply broadly defined anti-terrorism laws to punish acts protected under international human rights law in 2020, disregarding fair trial guarantees and due process.


KURDISH MINORITY


April 5: The police in Diyarbakır detained 26 members of the Rosa Women’s Association on terrorism-related charges. Six of the detainees were arrested by a court on April 9 and one was placed under house arrest.


April 5: The police in Diyarbakır detained journalist Beritan Canözer from the Jinnews agency.


April 5: The police in Tunceli detained three local HDP members.


April 6: A Kars court sentenced former co-mayor Şevin Alaca to six years, 10 months, 15 days in prison on terrorism-related charges. Alaca was released pending appeal.


Şevin Alaca

April 6: The police in Adıyaman raided the provincial HDP office, briefly detaining executives Bekir Gündüz and Hasari Oğuz.


April 6: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to three websites used by the Jin news agency to publish news. The news agency was previously banned on terrorism charges.


April 7: A Diyarbakır court sentenced local HDP member Halide Türkoğlu to six years, three months in prison on terrorism-related charges.


April 7: A Diyarbakır court sentenced local DBP member İsmail Bardakçı to six years, three months in prison on terrorism related charges.


April 8: The police in Tunceli detained local HDP executive Aydın Köse.


OTHER MINORITIES


April 7: A Mardin court sentenced Assyrian priest Sefer Bileçen to 25 months in prison on charges of aiding a terrorist organization, on the grounds that his monastery was visited by alleged members of terrorist groups.


Assyrian priest Sefer Bileçen

PRISON CONDITIONS


April 7: A sick inmate at an Afyon prison was denied hospitalization and medication.


April 9 : A report drafted by the parliament’s Sub-committee on Prisoners Rights found that inmates in Ankara’s Sincan prison are suffering from freezing temperatures, foul drinking water, poor treatment and the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.


April 9: The ruling party tabled a bill in the parliament that grants prison administrations the right to record all inmate visitations.


April 10: A sick inmate at a Diyarbakır prison has not been referred to a hospital for three months.


REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS


April 6: The authorities deported four Iranian refugees for joining protests against Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention.


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


April 6: The police in Diyarbakır inflicted violence on İbrahim Halil Ercan during a house raid to detain him.


April 6: Reports revealed that the police in İstanbul battered a man due to an argument in traffic.


April 6: The guards at an Elazığ prison physically assaulted three inmates, one of whom was injured.


April 9: Two men in İstanbul reported that they were tortured for two days during their detention by the police.


April 9: Reports revealed that 14 members of the special operations police in Ağrı battered a person due to an argument on April 2.


April 9: The guards at an İzmir prison assaulted an inmate.


April 9: The police in Şanlıurfa physically assaulted two people due to an argument in traffic.


April 10: The guards at a Diyarbakır prison battered an inmate.


April 10: A monthly report by opposition MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that 371 incidents of torture took place in March.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS


April 5: The police in Diyarbakır detained 26 members of the Rosa Women’s Association on terrorism-related charges. Six of the detainees were arrested by a court on April 9 and one was placed under house arrest.


April 6: A monthly gender-based violence report compiled by Bianet found that men killed 36 women and inflicted violence on at least 68 others in March.