Turkey: Ongoing arbitrary detention of ten human rights defenders

13/07/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
TUR 005 / 0717 / OBS 078.1

Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Turkey
July 13, 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 ongoing arbitrary detention of ten human rights defenders, namely: Ms. Nalan ErkemThe Citizens Assembly is an NGO dedicated to peace, democracy and human rights in Europe, working on the notions of fundamental rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism., lawyer with the Citizens Assembly [1], Ms. Özlem Dalkıran, member of the Citizens Assembly, Ms. İlknur Üstün, member of the Women’s Coalition, Ms. Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Mr. Günal Kurşun, lawyer with the Human Rights Agenda Association, Mr. Veli Acu, member of the Human Rights Agenda Association, Mr. Nejat Taştan, member of Equal Rights Watch Association, Mr. Şeyhmuz Özbekli, trainee lawyer and member of the Rights Initiative, Mr. Ali Gharawi and Mr. Peter Steudtner, security consultants.

According to the information received, on July 11, 2017, Istanbul’s Terror and Organised Crime Investigation Bureau’s Prosecutor extended the pre-trial detention period of the ten human rights defenders for seven more days to complete his investigation. The defenders are investigated for “membership of an illegal-armed organisation” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code by the Istanbul Security Directorate but have not been formally charged yet. The Prosecutor also ordered the confidentiality of the investigation, thus preventing lawyers’ to access the files.

The ten human rights defenders remain held at Istanbul Directorate of Security on Vatan Street, where they were transferred on July 7, 2017.

Moreover, during a health control in Büyükada police stations Mr. Günal Kurşun and Mr. Veli Acu reported that they were handcuffed and that the doctor in charge did not properly examine them, in violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules [2]).

In addition, on July 10 and 11, 2017, Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan and Şeyhmuz Özbekli houses’ were raided and searched by the police, who seized electronic equipment including flash disks, external disks, CDs and sim cards. According to search warrants, the police were looking for evidence to substantiate the Prosecutor’s allegation of “meeting with a suspicion of terrorist activity”. However, due to the confidentiality of the investigation neither copy of search warrants nor of seized materials were given to their lawyers.

Furthermore, some searches took place without the presence of lawyers. Ms. Nalan Erkem’s apartment search was postponed until a representative of Istanbul Bar Association was able to assist, the next morning.

Likewise, Mr. Nejat Taştan was briefly taken out of custody to open the door of his apartment in order to allow police search. Despite his objection, they carried out the search without the presence of a lawyer.

Furthermore, the detained human rights defenders are the target of an extensive smear campaign accusing them of “planning to fuel unrest across Turkey” in certain segments of Turkish media.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concerns over the ongoing arbitrary detention of Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner and consequently urges Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them as their detention only aims at sanctioning their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities as part of an ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders in Turkey [3].

The Observatory further urges authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees as well as to put an end to any form of harassment against them.

Background information:

On July 5, 2017, Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner were arrested and detained in different police stations across Büyükada, following a police raid during a digital security and information management workshop organised by the Citizens Assembly in Büyükada, Istanbul. The owner of the hotel where the workshop was being organised was also arrested and released on July 6, 2017.

Under Turkey’s state of emergency, they were not given access to their lawyers and family for at least 24 hours. On July 6, 2017, after 24 hours, their detention was extended for seven days.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi, and Peter Steudtner as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) ;

iv. 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;

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.

Addresses:

· President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31
· Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım, Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82 Email: ozelkalem@basbakanlik.gov.tr
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: ozelkalem@adalet.gov.tr
· Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30
· Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
· Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 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, July 13, 2017

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

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