Turkey: Killing of Mr. Tahir Elçi, President of the Bar Association in south-east Diyarbakir province and member of İHD

Urgent Appeal

TUR 002 / 1215 / OBS 099
December 1, 2015

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

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İHD) about the killing of Mr. Tahir Elçi, President of the Bar Association in south-east Diyarbakir province and member of İHD. Mr. Tahir Elçi was a prominent lawyer and defender of human rights, including the rights of Kurdish people.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2015, at around 11 am, Mr. Tahir Elçi was shot in the face by unidentified men in a gun attack, after delivering a statement along with other lawyers, at a press conference organised by the Bar Association in Diyarbakir. Before fleeing, the attackers opened fire on people, killing two policemen and wounding several witnesses, including three police officers and journalists. The security forces responded but failed to catch the alleged attackers.

During the conference, Mr. Elçi spoke about the destruction caused to a historic minaret by the clashes in Sur, a district province of Diyarbakir. He also called for an end to violence between the Turkish State and the Kurdish group Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) [1].

The assassination of Mr. Tahir Elçi takes place against the backdrop of the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey. The authorities have launched a strong security offensive over the past five months under the pretext of countering terrorism. However, the operation turned into a massive crackdown on some civil society organisations depicted as “terrorist networks”. This campaign has been targeting dozens of peaceful activists who have been involved in the monitoring of human rights violations resulting from anti-terrorism operations and advocating for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue. These peaceful activists include human rights defenders, particularly IHD members, lawyers, political party representatives and journalists.

The Observatory strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Tahir Elçi and urges the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in Turkey and to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events.

Actions requested:

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

• Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Turkey, including in particular those who defend the rights of the Kurdish minority;

• Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

• Put an end to the crackdown on civil society under the pretext of countering terrorism and recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders in line with universal human rights standards;

• Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:

 its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

 its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. 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, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr

· Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu tel: (0312) 422 10 00 ; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara - Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00

· Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir BOZDAĞ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr

· Minister of Interior, Mr. Selami Altınok; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30; Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr

· Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Tel: +32 2 289 62 40, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50

· Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; 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.

Paris-Geneva, December 1, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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