Turkey Rights Monitor - Sayı 48

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ARBITRARY DETENTION AND ARREST


Throughout the week, prosecutors ordered the detention of at least 309 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.



May 19: The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) reported that a prison in Van was arbitrarily denying parole to political prisoners who are eligible. In the interviews conducted by the prison administration to decide whether parole would be granted, inmates were asked personal questions about their political ideologies, including whether they would continue working for the HDP after their release.


ARBITRARY DEPRIVATION OF LIFE


May 19: A report by the Baran Tursun Foundation said that the police killed a total of 404 civilians, including 92 children in the last 13 years.


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.


May 18: The Human Rights Association (İHD) said in a statement that at least 1,388 people have been victims of enforced disappearance in Turkey in the last 40 years, with most of the cases taking place between 1980 and 2001.


FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


May 17: The police in İstanbul briefly detained two former public sector workers staging a sit-in to protest their summary dismissal from their jobs in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016.


May 17: The police in İstanbul blocked an environmental protest against the construction of a stone quarry in northeastern Turkey, briefly detaining 13 people.


May 18: The police in İstanbul blocked a commemoration event held by left-wing activists, detaining 15 people.


May 18: The Van Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days. Through consecutive extensions the ban has been held in effect since November 2016.


May 19: The police in İstanbul detained seven people over a left-wing commemoration event.


May 19: The police in Batman briefly detained musician Ethem Tüzer while staging a one-person demonstration to commemorate the musicians who committed suicide due to financial problems during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Ethem Tüzer

May 20: The police in İstanbul blocked a socialist demonstration against Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza, detaining 15 people.


May 20: The police in Ankara blocked a commemoration event organized by leftist groups, detaining 13 people.


May 20: The police in Şanlıurfa detained Emine Şenyaşar and Ferit Şenyaşar while staging a sit-in protest to seek justice in the case of the killing of a family member by people close to the ruling party.


May 23: The police raided the houses of 10 people for attending Boğaziçi University protests, briefly detaining one of them who was found home.


May 23: The Kırklareli Governor’s Office issued a ban on all outdoor gatherings for a period of 15 days. The ban came amid numerous environmental protests to prevent the construction of a stone quarry in a village.


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA


May 17: A report released by opposition MP Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi found that media regulator RTÜK has imposed a record number of punitive measures against anti-government TV and radio stations over the past two years since a presidential system of governance with lesser checks went in to effect.


May 18: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey violated the rights of two journalists who were jailed for reporting on the leaked emails of former finance minister.


May 18: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to the Kızıl Bayrak news website.


May 19: Sümeyya Avcı, a teacher who was dismissed from public service after the 2016 coup attempt, was detained after she criticized the government in a street interview that attracted widespread attention on social media. Avcı was released the next day.


Sümeyya Avcı

May 19: An İstanbul court ruled to release journalist Pınar Gayıp from house arrest. Gayıp had been held under house arrest for more than five months on charges related to a left-wing political party.


Journalist Pınar Gayıp

May 20: Mob boss Sedat Peker confessed to involvement in a 2015 attack on the İstanbul offices of the Hürriyet daily on the orders of a lawmaker from the ruling party AKP.


May 20: A Zonguldak court ruled to block access to news reports about the revelations of notorious mobster Sedat Peker involving his ties to local mayor Selim Alan.


May 21: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made changes to a 2018 press card regulation, in a second attempt to make card cancellations easier.


May 21: An Ankara court ruled to block access to the personal website of mob boss Sedat Peker who has been making incriminating revelations about high-ranking Turkish officials, citing national security and public order reasons.


May 21: A court acquitted journalist Melis Alphan of terrorism charges. Alphan stood trial due to a photo she posted on social media during Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır in 2015.


May 21: A Diyarbakır court ruled to block access to a web address used by the pro-Kurdish Jinnews website which is under a previously imposed ban from access.


May 22: The police in İzmir briefly detained Tacettin Çolak, a lawyer and the executive of a left-wing party, on charges of insulting the president, over a banner that was hanged on the building of his party.


May 22: The police in Diyarbakır detained a person over social media messages about an attack on the Diyarbakır military airbase.


May 22: The state-run Anadolu news agency fired reporter Musab Turan after he asked questions at a press conference about recent allegations of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s links to the mafia.


May 22: The police raided the office of a news website owned by journalists Hadi Özışık and Süleyman Özışık, after they were targeted by the interior minister.


May 23: Van prosecutors indicted singers Fuat Ege and Rohat Aram, charging them with spreading terrorist propaganda, for singing a Kurdish song during Newroz celebrations in the city.


HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


May 21: An İstanbul court ruled to keep behind bars businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been kept in detention for three-and-a-half years.


Osman Kavala

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE & RULE OF LAW


May 20: Eyyüp Akbulut, a Şanlıurfa prosecutor who announced on social media that he had launched an investigation into circulars released by the Interior Ministry regarding coronavirus measures he claims are unlawful was suspended by the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).


Prosecutor Eyyüp Akbulut

KURDISH MINORITY


May 18: The police in Mardin conducted house raids in three district, detaining 14 people including former and current HDP executives.


May 18: The European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay damages to the Diyarbakır-based Amedspor football club and its former player Deniz Naki. The court said that Naki’s right to freedom of thought and expression and right to a fair trial were violated.


Deniz Naki

May 19: The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) reported that a prison in Van was arbitrarily denying parole to political prisoners who are eligible. In the interviews conducted by the prison administration to decide whether parole would be granted, inmates were asked personal questions about their political ideologies, including whether they would continue working for the HDP after their release.


May 21: Two Kurdish men were shot and seriously injured by Turkish security forces while trying to cross the border into Turkey from Iraq.


May 21: A court acquitted journalist Melis Alphan of terrorism charges. Alphan stood trial due to a photo she posted on social media during Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır in 2015.


May 22: The police in Şırnak briefly detained lformer HDP district executive Bengin Karaviş.


May 23: The police in İstanbul detained six people, including a former HDP district executive.


May 23: The police in three provinces detained 20 people, including HDP members and executives, as part of an Adana-based investigation.


May 23: Van prosecutors indicted singers Fuat Ege and Rohat Aram, charging them with spreading terrorist propaganda, for singing a Kurdish song during Newroz celebrations in the city.


MISTREATMENT OF CITIZENS ABROAD


May 19: The wife of teacher Selahattin Gülen released a video, claiming that her husband was abducted on May 3 by operatives of the Turkish government in Kenya, for being a relative of US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.


May 21: A Kosovar court accepted the indictment of three officials involved in the illegal deportation of six Turkish teachers to Turkey in March 2018. The teachers were sought by the Turkish authorities over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.


Six Turkish teachers who were illegally deported to Turkey with the help of high-ranking Kosovar officials

OTHER MINORITIES


May 17: A group of unknown individuals attacked a Syriac cave church in the southeastern province of Şırnak, destroying a number of Christian items inside.


May 17: Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).


May 21: A mufti in Düzce in his Friday sermon targeted the Jewish community and people with a migratory background from Thessaloniki.


PRISON CONDITIONS


May 17: Şeref Vatansever, a teacher who was jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, died of Covid-19 after contracting the disease in a Kocaeli prison.


Şeref Vatansever

May 19: Ten NGOs urged the Justice Ministry to provide an update on the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Turkey’s prisons, pointing out that no data has been released on the outbreak behind bars for months.


May 22: A prison administration in Diyarbakır denied treatment to inmate Emine Erol, despite her severe illness due to Covid-19 which she contracted behind bars.


May 22: New reports pointed to a criminal neglect on the part of the authorities in the case of academic Halil Şimşek, who died in a Çanakkale prison after contracting Covid-19 behind bars.


Halil Şimşek

TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT


May 18: The Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project (TUHRAP), a UK-based rights group, lodged applications concerning six Turkish officials involved in alleged incidents of torture as subjects for sanctions by the UK government under the newly adopted Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, commonly known as the UK’s Magnitsky Act.


May 19: Kurbani Özcan, a Kurdish prisoner who requested his transfer out of prisons in Trabzon and Giresun due to torture, was transferred to a Diyarbakır prison where his ill-treatment continued and officers broke his fingers, according to the statements of his mother.


May 20: Reports said that a PKK militant was tortured by soldiers in Diyarbakır after being captured wounded during an operation.