Turkey: Arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Ms. Nurcan Baysal

06/06/2019
Urgent Appeal

TUR 002 / 0619 / OBS 047
Arbitrary arrest / Release/
Judicial harassment
Turkey
June 6, 2019

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Ms. Nurcan Baysal. A journalist and 2018 Global Laureate for Human Rights Defenders at Risk by Front Line Defenders, Ms. Nurcan Baysal has been documenting and writing about human rights abuses in the Kurdish region of Turkey since 2012.

According to the information received, on June 3, 2019, five Anti-Terror Police officers arrested Ms. Nurcan Baysal at her home in Diyarbakir and took her to the Anti-Terror Department of Police over suspicion of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, with the intention to keep her in detention until June 10, 2019, when the prosecutor who ordered her arrest will come back from holidays. After three hours of detention, under international pressure, police officers took her to the prosecutor on duty, who did not know the reason of her arrest, recognised that her file was dating back from 2010-2012 and that he did not know why it had been reopened, and decided to release her. Ms. Nurcan Baysal’s lawyers said prosecutors did not provide them with further details about the charges. It is expected that the prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant against Ms. Nurcan Baysal will take a decision on her case in the days following June 10.

In April 2019, Ms. Nurcan Baysal gave a speech [1] at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. When she returned to Turkey, her speech was reported by pro-government media and it was published that Nurcan Baysal had given a speech in Geneva and blamed Turkish government for killing civilians, calling her a lier, traitor and supporter of PKK organisation. Ms. Nurcan Baysal and her lawyer decided to file a complaint against the media.

The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time Ms. Nurcan Baysal is targeted for the legitimate exercise of activities to promote human rights. In January 2018, she was arrested over charges of “terrorist propaganda” during the night, after the police broke her home door, in connection with five tweets in which she demanded peace and condemned the military incursion launched by the Turkish government in Afrin, Syria. The prosecutor requested a three years jail sentence but Ms. Nurcan Baysal was acquitted in that case in April 2019. In February 2018, in another case, she was sentenced to 10 months of prison for “humiliating the Turkish security forces” in an article she wrote in 2016 and in which she criticized the Turkish military operation in the Kurdish city of Cizre. The court decided to suspend the verdict and decided there would be no penalty as long as Ms. Nurcan Baysal does not “humiliate the Turkish security forces” again within five years.

The Observatory firmly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Ms. Nurcan Baysal, which seems to be only aimed at punishing her for human rights activities, and calls on the Turkish authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her and all the human rights defenders in Turkey.

Actions requested:
 
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nurcan Baysal;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Nurcan Baysal and against all 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, June 6, 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: https://youtu.be/YiVumVwsyozM

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