The Human Rights Association offices raided by the Anti-Terror Forces

Press release
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The FIDH and the OMCT, in the framework of their joint programme The Observatory for the protection of Human Rights Defenders, express their deepest concern after the raids operated this morning against the headquarters of the Human Rights Association (IHD) in Ankara, as well as the Ankara branch office of the IHD, by members of the Anti-Terror Forces.

According to the information received, the raids against both offices were launched at the same time at 9h30 AM and lasted two hours. All the equipment of the offices were taken, including computers, hard disks, files, video-tapes, etc. The forces were accompanied by the Prosecutor of the Ankara State Security Court, who went first to the headquarters and then to the branch office. The IHD employees were told that this operation was ordered by the State Security Court for preliminary investigation, in the framework of a public prosecution for, in particular, “helping an illegal organisation” (art. 169 of the Penal Code, which includes a very large definition of crimes).

The FIDH and the OMCT note that these acts are part of recurrent acts of repression against human rights defenders in Turkey, in particular through judicial means (See Observatory International and Legal Observation Mission Report - Turkey - Judicial Harassment Against Human Rights Defenders - December 2002).

Our organisations stress the fact that these raids occurred immediately following the attendance by members of IHD at the sessions of the Committee Against Torture of the United Nations (2 - 5 may 2003), during which a member of the Turkish delegation questioned the appropriateness of the queries made by the Rapporteur of the Committee regarding the situation of harassment of human rights defenders in Turkey. On 5th May, while answering the Committee’s questions, the delegation’s member denied any repression against human rights defenders as well as the existence of a link between judicial procedures against Turkish human rights defenders and their human rights activities. The events of this morning constitute a flagrant contradiction of these official declarations.

The FIDH and the OMCT ask the Turkish authorities to:

- immediately put an end to any kind of repression, including judicial persecution, against the IHD and all human rights defenders in Turkey
- abide by the provisions of the Declaration on the Protection of human Rights Defenders adopted on the 9th of December 1998, by the UN General Assembly particularly Article 1 "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international level".
- comply in any circumstances with the Copenhagen criteria allowing for membership in the European Union, as well as with the provisions of all human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.

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