TUR 004 / 0616 / OBS 049.4
March 24, 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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey Representative of Reporters Without Borders (RWB), and Mr. Ahmet Nesin, journalist.
According to the information received, on March 22, 2017, following a ten minutes hearing, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court postponed the hearing in the trial of the three human rights defenders  on charges of “provoking commission of an offence” , “praising the offence and the offenders”  and “making propaganda of terrorist organisation through means of press”  to June 8, 2017. The presiding judge, Bulent Dalkiran, did not seat during the hearing.
The postponement was justified on the fact that Mr. Ahmet Nesin and his lawyer did not attend the hearing. A bench warrant was issued against Mr. Nesin.
The Observatory recalls that the three face possible custodial sentences for taking part in a solidarity campaign in support of the right to freedom of the press, and more particularly the Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem .
The Observatory deplores the continuing judicial harassment against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.
The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to drop all the charges against them and, in the meantime, to ensure that all judicial proceedings against them are carried out in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.
On June 20, 2016, the 1st High Court of Peace in Istanbul ordered the detention of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu, pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in the propaganda of terrorism. The human rights defenders presented themselves after they had received arrest warrants, and were referred to the First High Court of Peace after testifying before the Prosecutor on Terror and Organised Crime at the Istanbul Court House in Çağlayan earlier that day, under accusations of “provoking commission of offence”,“praising the offence and the offenders” and “making terror propaganda”.
Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Ahmet Nesin and Mr. Erol Önderoğlu were questioned in relation to their participation in the “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign launched in early May 2016 in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper and to defend press freedom in Turkey .
Ms. Fincancı was detained at Bakırköy Women Closed Prison, while Mr. Önderoğlu and Mr. Nesin were held in Metris Prison in Istanbul.
On June 30, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Ms. Fincancı and Mr. Önderoğlu.
On July 1, 2016, the 14th Heavy Penal Court ordered the provisional release of Mr. Ahmet Nesin.
On November 8, 2016, the Istanbul Caglayan 13th Heavy Penal Court decided to pursue the charges against Ms. Fincancı, Mr. Önderoğlu and Mr. Nesin and decided to postpone the hearing to January 11, 2017.
On January 11, 2017, after a five minutes hearing, the Court postponed the trial to March, 21, 2017.
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
i. Drop all the charges against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin and, in the meantime, ensure that any judicial proceedings against them is carried out in full compliance with the defendants’ right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Turkey, including Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Mr. Erol Önderoğlu and Mr. Ahmet Nesin;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Turkey so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
iv. Put an end to the ongoing crackdown on civil society under the pretext of countering terrorism and recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders, in line with Turkey’s international obligations;
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, 12.1 and 12.2;
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 Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: email@example.com
· 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu; Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30; Email: email@example.com
· 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, March 24, 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:
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