Turkey: Arbitrary detention of WHRDs and judicial harassment of Rosa Women’s Association

Urgent Appeal
en tr

TUR 005 / 0520 / OBS 058
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
May 27, 2020

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 information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of women’s rights defenders, including members of Free Women’s Movement (Tevgera Jinen Azad – TJA) and Rosa Women’s Association (RWA) [1], as well as Kurdish politicians, including members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in Diyarbakır, within the scope of an investigation against the Rosa Women’s Association.

According to the information received, in the early morning of May 22, 2020, Turkish special operation forces raided the houses of 19 people in Diyarbakır and took them into police custody. Those who were taken into police custody are, RWA President Ms. Adalet Kaya; founding members of RWA Mss. Ayla Akat Ata, Narin Gezgör and Fatma Gültekin; RWA executives and also TJA members Mss. Gülcihan Şimşek and Zelal Bilgin; HDP Central Executive Board member Ms. Özlem Gündüz; HDP Yenişehir district branch co-chairs Ms. Remziye Sızıcı and Mr. Kasım Kaya; Bağlar Municipal Council members Ms. Gönül Aslan, Mr. Veysi Kuzu and Mr. Hüseyin Harman; Diyarbakır Municipal Council member Ms. Sevim Coşkun; Yenişehir Municipal Council member Ms. Nevriye Çur; Kurdish politicians Ms. Nazile Tursun and Mr. Celal Yoldaş; former DBP co-chair Mr. Mehmet Arslan; HDP member Mr. Mehmet Ali Altınkaynak; as well as Diyarbakır Peace Mothers’ Assembly member Ms. Rebia Kıran. The police also broke the door of and raided the office of Rosa Women’s Association in Kayapınar district in Diyarbakır without notifying its officials. After almost a five-hour long search, the police confiscated some documents, including the records about survivors of violence and sexual harassment. Authorities put a confidentiality order on the case file, and the lawyers haven’t seen the case file to date.

The 13 women rights defenders and six men were accused of "membership to a terrorist organisation" (under Article 314/2 of the Criminal Code). Women’s rights defenders were questioned about their activities such as making press statements, organising demonstrations including the March 8 rally, holding banners asking the whereabouts of a women lost for over 100 days, participating in the sittings of Peace Mother’s on hunger strike, and participating in demonstrations against the dismissal of HDP mayors. It was reported that an anonymous witness alleged that the women’s rights defenders were “aiming to reach out to more people by focusing on matters that concern women such as femicides and sexual harassment, and thus to recruit more people for a terrorist organisation giving an impression of conducting legal activities.” Additionally, all men who were taken into police custody within the scope of this investigation were alleged to be the “secret members of Rosa Women’s Association” with the exception of Mr. Veysi Kuzu.

After their interrogation at the Anti-Terror Branch, Nevriye Çur, Ayla Akat, Zelal Bilgin, Nazire Tursun were released by the Prosecutor of Diyarbakır. The other 15 were requested to be detained by the Prosecutor without being interrogated by the latter and were referred to the Diyarbakır 1st Peace Judgeship. While the judge released Hüseyin Herman on judicial control, 13 were detained. 68-year old peace activist Rebia Kıran was put under house arrest. Women’s rights defenders who were detained by court decision included Adalet Kaya, Narin Gezgör, Fatma Gültekin, Gülcihan Şimşek, Özlem Gündüz, Remziye Sızıcı, Gönül Aslan and Sevim Coşkun. Gönül Aslan was detained with her 3-year old son, who has serious health conditions related to his kidneys, for her to take care of him.

The Observatory firmly condemns the criminalisation of Rosa Women’s Association and the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of the above mentioned women’s rights defenders as they seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all the detained women’s rights defenders and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all the human rights defenders in Turkey.

Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release the nine women rights defenders and five men who were detained within the scope of the investigation against Rosa Women’s Association, as well as all other human rights defenders detained in the country;
ii. Take all the necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of Gönül Aslan’s 3-year old son who is currently in detention with his mother, including implementing measures such as house arrest instead of detention;
iii. Take all the necessary measures to ensure the well-being and health of the detained women’s rights defenders amid the Covid-19 pandemic;
iv. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the 14 women rights defenders and six men, and all human rights defenders in Turkey;
v. 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 and 12;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.


• President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: +90 (312) 525 58 31. Email: contact@tccb.gov.tr
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül. Email: info@adalet.gov.tr. Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70
• Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: diab@icisleri.gov.tr; sti@icisleri.gov.tr
• Ambassador Mr. Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50. Email: info@turkdeleg.org; tr-delegation.eu@mfa.gov.tr
• Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: turkey.unog@mfa.gov.tr

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country. 
Paris-Geneva, May 26, 2020
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] Rosa Women’s Association was established after all women’s rights organisations in Amed were closed by governmental decrees in 2016 and is now the only women’s organisation working on violence against women.

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