Turkey: Arbitrary detention of 22 members of the Migration Monitoring Association

Credit: Migration Monitoring Association

TUR 002 / 0622 / OBS 045
Police raid /
Arbitrary detention /
Arbitrary arrest
June 14, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (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 about the arbitrary detention of 22 members and executives of the Migration Monitoring Association (Göç İzleme Derneği, also Göç-İz) and the subsequent arrest of 16 of them. Founded in Istanbul in 2016, the Migration Monitoring Association aims to strengthen solidarity among immigrants and particularly groups forced to migrate between 1986 and 2016 and to advocate for their demands for a human life through documentation and reporting within the domain of migration and forced displacement. It does so by supporting internally displaced persons in their pursuit of justice and raising awareness on rights violations connected to forced displacement and challenges of resettlement.

In the morning of June 3, 2022, the building of the Migration Monitoring Association in Istanbul and homes of the association executives were raided by the police and various materials in the association office, including books and reports published by the organisation and office computers, were confiscated. Makbule Altıntaş, Veysi Yıldız, Bilal Yıldız, İlyas Erdem, Halit Karahan, Zelal Coşkun, Şeref Kaya, Ramazan Kırkpınar, Cihan Kartal, Ali Koçyiğit, İskan Teker, Songül Köse, İrfan Hülakü, Kamile Kendal, Mehmet Boğakan, Demgül Athan, Süleyman Yıldız, Kıyasettin Cüheylan, Erhan Örs, Nurhayat Koçyiğit, Mehmet Baran and Pınar Konak were detained and brought to the Istanbul Police Directorate.

The detained persons were barred from seeing their lawyers for 24 hours and a confidentiality order was placed on the investigation file that is still ongoing. The four-day detention period was extended, and the detained human rights defenders were sent to the Istanbul Courthouse on June 10, 2022 to provide their statements to the prosecution, during which they were questioned on the books published by the Migration Monitoring Association on forced migration. The Istanbul 3rd Peace Criminal Judgeship ordered the confiscation of three books published by the association, titled "Migration stories of non-Muslims displaced in the 1990s", "Migration stories of Kurds displaced in the 1990s" and "Migration stories of women during the 2015-2016 curfews." The 22 above-mentioned human rights defenders were questioned on both their personal finances and the association’s financial records, including questions on payments made to trainers and hotels as part of the association’s activities.

On June 11, 2022, Pınar Konak, Süleyman Yıldız, İskan Teker, Ali Koçyiğit, Şeref Kaya and Nurhayat Koçyiğit were released under judicial control and the remaining 16 defenders were arrested and sent to Bakırköy and Silivri prisons. Due to the confidentiality order, neither the charges nor alleged evidence against the defenders are known, although based on the questioning and according to their lawyers, it is believed they are accused of “membership in an armed organisation” based on their human rights-related monitoring and reporting activities. Pro-government media also reported that the human rights defenders are accused of providing financing to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] using European Union and United Nations funding.

The Observatory recalls that the Migration Monitoring Association faced previous judicial and administrative harassment due to their work on forced migration, as mentioned in the Observatory and the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD)’s report, Turkey’s Civil Society on the Line: a Shrinking Space for Freedom of Association.

The Observatory condemns the police raid, the arbitrary detention of the 22 executives and members of the Migration Monitoring Association, and the subsequent arbitrary arrest of 16 of them, as they seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory urges the authorities in Turkey to immediately and unconditionally release all the Migration Monitoring Association’s members and all the human rights defenders currently arbitrarily detained in the country. The Observatory more generally calls on the authorities to ensure that all human rights organisations and human rights defenders in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Actions requested

Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
 guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all the Migration Monitoring Association members, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;
 immediately and unconditionally release the 16 Migration Monitoring Association members, as their arrest is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;
 put an end to all acts of harassment — including at the judicial level — against the 22 Migration Monitoring Association members and all other human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.


 President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, e-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
 Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, email: info@adalet.gov.tr.
 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, 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, June 14, 2022

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:

 email: appeals@fidh-omct.org
 tel FIDH: + 33 (1) 43 55 25 18
 tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39

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