Judicial proceedings / Arbitrary detentions - TUR 001 / 0406 / OBS 045.1

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (HRA) about the ongoing arbitrary detention of and judicial proceedings against several human rights defenders in Turkey.

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

New information:

According to the information received, Mr. Resit Yaray and Mr. Mursel Kayar, respectively board member and member of the HRA Batman Branch, remain detained at the Batman Prison. The first hearing of their trial is scheduled to be held on June 30, 2006 before the Diyarbakir Heavy Criminal Court Number 5, for "assisting and supporting illegal organisations".

On March 29, 2006, Mr. Resit Yaray and Mr. Mursel Kayar had been arrested by police officers and detained in the Directorate of Security in Batman. During their detention, they were reportedly beaten and they would have sustained injuries as a result.

On April 2, 2006, they were heard by the Public Prosecutor of Batman, to whom they declared that they were only HRA observers of the riots between Kurdish citizens and security forces that were taking place at that time in the city. However, the Criminal Court of Batman decided to detain and transfer them to the prison of Batman.

Besides, the Observatory has also been informed of the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Necdet Atalay, former Spokesman of the Diyarbakir Democracy Platform, Secretary General of the Machine Engineers’ Association, and HRA member, on March 29, 2006. He is currently detained in Diyarbakir D Type Prison.

Furthermore, the Observatory recalls that several human rights defenders who were arrested in the same context also remain in detention, including Mr. Ali Oncu, Mr. Edip Yasar and Mr. Mecail Ozel, members of the Diyarbakir Branch of the HRA (See background information).

Messrs. Ali Oncu, Edip Yasar, Mecail Ozel, and Necdet Atalay were also all charged with "assisting and supporting illegal organisations", in the framework of the repression of these violent riots in several provinces of the South East and East regions of Turkey.

The first hearing in the trial of Mr. Edip Yasar and Mr. Necdet Atalay will be on June 29, 2006.The trial of Mr. Ali Oncu, also Chairperson of TES-Is, one of the largest workers’ union in Turkey, will take place before the Diyarbakir Heavy Criminal Court on July 13, 2006.

Background information:

From March 28, 2006 to April 5, 2006, violent riots occurred between Kurdish citizens and security forces in several provinces of the South East and East regions of Turkey, following the funerals of Kurdish rebels who were killed during a fight with the army in Mus-Bingol area, on March 24, 2006. According to HRA, about 600 people would have been detained, including children.

On March 30, 2006, Mr. Mecail Ozel was reportedly arrested and detained by police officers in Ofis, district of Diyarbakir. The Directorate of Security first denied his detention and his family did not receive any news from him until April 3, 2006. On April 4, 2006, Mr. Ozel was brought before the Diyarbakir Criminal Court and questioned by the Public Prosecutor of Diyarbakir. The Court decided his detention for "assistance and support to illegal organisations" and he was then transferred to the prison of Diyarbakir.

On April 2, 2006, Mr. Erdal Kuzu and Mr. Hüseyin Cangir were arrested in the city of Kiziltepe (in Mardin area) as they allegedly tried to prevent attacks by security forces against civilians. Mr. Kuzu and Mr. Cangir were seriously beaten, including by a military doctor, when detained. After their release four hours later, they were examined and medical reports attested ill-treatments against both of them.

On April 4, 2006, Mr. Ali Oncu and Mr. Edip Yasar, also Chairman of Tum Bel-Sen, an union of officials of municipalities, were arrested and detained by an anti-terrorism branch of the security force. On April 5, 2006, they were heard by the Public Prosecutor of Diyarbakir and by the judge who decided to transfer them to Diyarbakir D Type prison. Mr. Oncu and Mr. Yasar were charged with "assisting and supporting illegal organisations".

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey urging them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Resit Yaray, Mr. Mursel Kayar, Mr. Ali Oncu, Mr. Edip Yasar, Mr. Mecail Ozel, and Mr. Necdet Atalay, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Ensure that their rights to a fair and impartial trial be guaranteed in any circumstances, so that the charges against them be dropped, as they are arbitrary;

iii. Put an end to acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or 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", and article 12.2 which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, which was ratified by Turkey in 1988.

Addresses :

- President of Turkey, Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara,Turkey; Fax: +90 312 468 5026

- Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, TC Basbakanlik Bakanligi Ankara,Turkey, Fax: + 90 312 417 0476; receptayyip.erdogan@basbakanlik.gov.tr

- Interior Minister, Mr Abdulkadir Aksu, Ministry of Interior, Içisleri Bakanligi, 06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95, aaksu@icisleri.gov.tr

- Justice Minister, Mr Cemil Cicek, Ministry of Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi , 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 5667, ccicek@adalet.gov.tr

- Foreign Minister, Mr Abdullah Gül, Office of the Prime Minister,Basbakanlik,06573 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 417 04 76, agul@mfa.gov.tr

- Ambassador, Mr. Türkekul Kurttekin, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Ch. du Petit-Saconnex 28b - CP 271, CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland, E-mail : mission.turkey@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 734 08 59

- Ambassador Mr. Volkan Bozkir, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to Brussels, avenue Louis Lepoutre, 99, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 98 79.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Turkey in your respective countries.


Geneva-Paris, June 20, 2006

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

The Observatory, a 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.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 22 / 41 22 809 49 29

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