Turkey: Sentencing of four lawyers members of İHD Ankara Branch

05/02/2013
Urgent Appeal

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Haklari Derneği - İHD) of the sentencing of four lawyers members of İHD Ankara Branch, Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, former Chairperson, as well as Messrs. Hasan Anlar, General Executive Board member, Halil İbrahim Vargün, Chairperson and Murat Vargün.

According to the information received, on January 25, 2013, Ankara Heavy Penal Court No. 11 sentenced Ms. Filiz Kalaycı to seven years and six months of imprisonment as well as Mr. Hasan Anlar, Mr. Halil İbrahgim Vargün and Mr. Murat Vargün to six years and three months each on charges of “membership to an illegal organisation” under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) due to their human rights activities. As their lawyers filed an appeal against the sentence, no arrest warrant was issued against the four lawyers.

The Observatory is deeply concerned by the sentencing of Ms. Filiz Kalaycı and Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil İbrahgim Vargün and Murat Vargün, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, and calls upon the Turkish authorities to review it.

It further recalls that dozens of human rights defenders are currently subjected to prolonged judicial harassment for abusive terrorism charges in Turkey. In this context, İHD has particularly been the subject of a systematic campaign of judicial harassment, as a direct result of its human rights work in Turkey, in particular on Kurdish issues.

Background information:

On May 12, 2009, in Ankara, the offices and homes of Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil İbrahim Vargün and Murat Vargün were raided by officers of the Anti-Terror Unit of the police, who were in possession of a search warrant and a detention order against them. They were immediately arrested, placed in police custody in the Anti-Terror Forces Unit detention centre, and released in the night of May 14, 2009. The Public Prosecutor brought Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil Ibrahim Vargun and Murat Vargun before Ankara Heavy Penal Court No. 11 and requested that they be remanded in detention. However, the court decided to release Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil Ibrahim Vargun and Murat Vargun, but imposed a travel ban on them, on the basis of Article 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Public Prosecutor appealed the decision, and issued a warrant of arrest against Ms. Filiz Kalaycı on May 25, 2009. On May 28, 2009, Ms. Filiz Kalaycı was re-arrested on the basis of an allegation of “aiding illegal organisations”. Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil İbrahim Vargün and Murat Vargün were also subject to the same allegations but not arrested.

These acts of harassment intervened after the publication by İHD of a report on human rights violations in prisons of Turkey on February 6, 2009 and made it public to draw attention on these violations. İHD had shared this report with the authorities. In addition, Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil İbrahim Vargün and Murat Vargün had been working on cases of human rights violations that occurred in detention, and as a consequence they often received letters of complaint from prison inmates. The charges are notably related to contacts entertained by the lawyers with their clients.

Their first hearing was held on November 9, 2009 before Ankara Heavy Penal Court No. 11. Although the defence lawyers claimed that the accusation of the Prosecutor against İHD lawyers and members was unfair and the evidence was both illegal and insufficient, the court rejected the petition. On January 28, 2010, Ms. Filiz Kalaycı as well as Messrs. Hasan Anlar, Halil İbrahim Vargün and Murat Vargün, appeared before Ankara Heavy Penal Court No. 11, which ordered Ms. Filiz Kalaycı’s release. The trial was postponed several times until it resumed on October 6, 2011.

Actions required:

Please write to the Turkish authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Mr. Hasan Anlar, Mr. Halil İbrahgim Vargün, Mr. Murat Vargün as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Filiz Kalaycı, Mr. Hasan Anlar, Mr. Halil İbrahgim Vargün, Mr. Murat Vargün, as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially its Article 1, which states 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”, as well as 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”;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.

Addresses:

· President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 468 5026; Email: cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
· Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Office of the Prime Minister Basbakanlik 06573 Ankara, Turkey, Fax: + 90 312 417 0476; Email: receptayyip.erdogan@basbakanlik.gov.tr
· Deputy Prime Minister Responsible for Human Rights, Mr. Beşir Atalay, Email: besir.atalay@tbmm.gov.tr, Fax: 00 90 (312) 422 13 98
· Interior Minister, Mr. Idris Naim Şahin, 06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95 / +90 312 418 7696,
· Justice Minister, Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Ministry of Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi, 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 414 62 26
· Foreign Minister, Mr. Ahmed Davudoglu, Office of the Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, 06573 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 287 88 11
· Ambassador, Mr. Oğuz Demiralp, 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. Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50.

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