Turkey: Acquittal of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin

18/07/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
TUR 004 / 0616 / OBS 049.6
Acquittal
Turkey
July 18, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acquittal of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey Representative of Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and Mr. Ahmet Nesin, a journalist.

According to the information received, on July 17, 2019, the İstanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court announced the acquittal of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin of the charges of “provoking commission of offence”,“praising the offence and the offenders” and “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, crimes for which they faced up to 14,5 years of prison.

The three defenders participated in the "Editors-in-Chief on Duty" campaign launched in solidarity with Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed by the Statutory Decree no. 675. They were arrested on June 20, 2016. While Mr. Önderoğlu and Ms. Fincancı were released 10 days later on June 30, 2016, Mr. Nesin was released on July 1, 2016 (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that of the 56 persons who took part in the solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem, 49 were prosecuted, including Ms. Eren Keskin, who was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months of prison on May 21, 2019 [1].

The Observatory also recalls that this is not the end of judicial harassment against Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, who is still facing charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, along with 16 other activists, for expressing solidarity with hundreds of academics prosecuted for signing a peaceful petition [2]. The trial in this case will start on November 7, 2019.

The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin but recalls that they should never have been arrested and prosecuted in the first place, as they were merely prosecuted because of the legitimate exercise of their human rights. The Observatory also calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and all the human rights defenders in Turkey.

Background information:

On June 20, 2016, the 1st High Court of Peace in Istanbul ordered the detention of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in the propaganda of terrorism. The human rights defenders presented themselves after they had received arrest warrants, and were referred to the First High Court of Peace after testifying before the Prosecutor on Terror and Organised Crime at the Istanbul Court House in Çağlayan earlier that day, under accusations of “provoking commission of offence”,“praising the offence and the offenders” and “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.

Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu were questioned in relation to their participation in the “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign launched in early May 2016 in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper and to defend press freedom in Turkey [3].

Ms. Fincancı was detained at Bakırköy Women Closed Prison, while Mr. Önderoğlu and Mr. Nesin were held in Metris Prison in Istanbul.

On June 30, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Ms. Fincancı and Mr. Önderoğlu.

On July 1, 2016, the 14th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Mr. Ahmet Nesin.

On November 8, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court decided to pursue the charges against Ms. Fincancı, Mr. Önderoğlu and Mr. Nesin and decided to postpone the hearing to January 11, 2017.

On June 8, 2017, the Istanbul Çağlayan 13th Heavy Penal Court postponed the hearing in the trial of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin. The next hearing was scheduled for December 26, 2017. The postponement was justified on the necessity to carry out correspondence with Mr. Ahmet Nesin, who was currently outside Turkey and was being tried in absentia.

Actions requested:
 
 
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and all the human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and against all the human rights defenders in Turkey;
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.

Addresses:

• President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül, E-mail: ozelkalem@adalet.gov.tr
• Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu, Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30
• H.E. Mr. Kaymakci Faruk, Ambassador, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: tr-delegation.eu@mfa.gov.tr; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
• H.E. Mr. Sadık Arslan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: turkey.unog@mfa.gov.tr; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country. 
 
***

Paris-Geneva, July 18, 2019
 
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See the Observatory Urgent Appeal TUR 003 / 0618 / OBS 087.2, published on May 28, 2019.
[2] See the Observatory Urgent Appeal TUR 001 / 0119 / OBS 001, published on January 4, 2019.
[3] Özgür Gündem started the “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign on May 3, 2016 to express solidarity and defend press freedom in the face of a number of investigations faced by the newspaper. A total of 49 prominent journalists have served as one-day editors-in-chief since the beginning of the campaign. Some 37 of them have been investigated up to now. Yet, Ms. Fincancı, Mr. Önderoğlu and Mr. Nesin were the first persons to be arrested and detained in relation to the campaign.

Read more
appelobs