Turkey: Conviction of Mr. Muharrem Erbey, human rights lawyer and former IHD President

Urgent Appeal
en fa

TUR 002 / 0417 / OBS 042
Judicial harassment / Sentencing
April 14, 2017

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 urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conviction of Mr. Muharrem Erbey, human rights lawyer, former Vice-President of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and former Chairperson of IHD Diyarbakır.

According to the information received, on March 28, 2017, the Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court sentenced Mr. Muharrem Erbey to six years and three months in prison after being convicted of “being a member of an illegal organisation” pursuant to Article 314/2 of the Criminal Code. On the same trial, the Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court further condemned 111 Kurdish figures to imprisonment and acquitted other 43. A few days after the sentencing, Mr. Erbey’s lawyers filed an appeal with the Court of Cassation. Mr. Erbey is amongst the other 174 figures that were being prosecuted for alleged membership to the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern as the conviction of Mr. Erbey appears to be linked to his human rights activities as a high-profile human rights lawyer (see background information). Therefore, the Observatory urges the Turkish authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Muharrem Erbey.

The Observatory more generally urges the authorities of Turkey to refrain from further harassing human rights defenders, and to ensure they are able to carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals. It also calls on the Turkish authorities to conform to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international and European human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.

Background information:

On December 24, 2009, Mr. Erbey was arrested as part of mass counter-terrorism operations that in fact have little to do with countering terrorism, but rather have been used as a means of criminalising peaceful dissent and Kurdish political and cultural expression. His arrest was based on his alleged membership to the KCK, an organisation said to be the “urban branch” of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was charged with “being a member of an illegal organisation”, pursuant to Article 314 of the Turkish Criminal Code.

Mr. Erbey is amongst the 174 people prosecuted under the “KCK trials”, which have been ongoing since April 2009. On April 12, 2014, the Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court No. 2 ordered the provisional release of Mr. Erbey for lack of evidence, after he spent more than four years in pre-trial detention.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Muharrem Erbey as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at judicial level, against Mr. Muharrem Erbey, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, 2, 5 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.


President of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Binali Yıldırım; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr
Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Twitter account: @MFATurkey
Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50, Email: tr-delegation.eu@mfa.gov.tr
H.E. Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: mission.turkey@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.

Read more