Arbitrary arrest, Release and Judicial harassment of Mr. Atilla Yazar and Ms. Nalan Durdu in Turkey

Urgent Appeal

TUR 003 / 1215 / OBS 111
Arbitrary arrest / Release /
Judicial harassment
December 21, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuous harassment of the Human Rights Association (İHD) members, orchestrated in the context of a broad wave of arrests targeting human rights defenders in Turkey.

According to the information received, on December 10, 2015 early in the morning, the police arrested Mr. Atilla Yazar, İHD Şanlıurfa branch co-president, at his house. He was released later in the afternoon. Mr. Yazar was arrested for allegedly violating the Law on Public Meetings and Demonstration (No. 2911) because he was participating in a protest that took place in Şanliurfa, following the October 10 tragedy that left scores of people dead and wounded in Ankara.

Several other NGO representatives were also arrested or harassed by the police. Among others, Ms. Nalan Durdu, İHD Şanlıurfa branch co-chair, who was at that time in Istanbul, was notified an arrest warrant on the same day and was asked to appear before the prosecution office as soon as she would be back to Şanlıurfa, which she did. At this occasion, she was questioned about her involvement in the protest and eventually released.

While no formal charges have yet been filed against them, both Mr. Yazar and Ms. Durdu are under investigation and face prosecution.

The Observatory condemns the continuous harassment of IHD members, which are only an illustration of a wider trend of repression against human rights defenders in Turkey. It further denounces that the Turkish authorities are overstepping the law, which increasingly threatens freedom of association, assembly and expression, further shrinking space for civil society.

The Observatory recalls that on September 30, 2015, three İHD members were also arrested during a police operation launched against Kurdish political parties and non-governmental organisations in Siirt province in South-East Turkey. The operations resulted in the arrest of at least ten people. During the illegal raid, the police confiscated books, reports and other documents, as well as computers belonging to İHD [1].

More recently, on November 28, 2015, Mr. Tahir Elçi, President of the Bar Association in South-East Diyarbakir province and member of İHD, was shot in the face by unidentified men in a gun attack, after delivering a statement along with other lawyers at a press conference organised by the Bar Association in Diyarbakir [2].

The Observatory therefore calls upon the Turkish authorities to end the widespread crackdown against human rights defenders in the country and guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all İHD members as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Atilla Yazar and Ms. Nalan Durdu, all IHD members as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iii. Put an end to the crackdown on civil society under the pretext of countering terrorism and recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders in line with universal human rights standards;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:
Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.


President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail:
Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu Tel: (0312) 422 10 00; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir BOZDAĞ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail:
Minister of Interior, Mr. Selami Altınok; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30; Email:
Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Tel: +32 2 289 62 40, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email:

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Turkey in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, December 21, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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