Police Violence Targeted Human Rights Defenders and Peace Activists in İzmir

Press release

In their press release the member organisations of FIDH in Turkey - the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HFRT) - denounce the arrests of 49 human rights defenders in the city of Izmir at a press conference of the Izmir Peace Bloc.

Upon the call of İzmir Peace Bloc, civil society organisations and activists came together to hold a press conference yet there was a police intervention even before the press conference started. As a result, 49 [1] people were arrested in İzmir.

Due to the Government of İzmir directive all press conferences by İzmir Peace Bloc, which Human Rights Association (IHD) İzmir Branch and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) İzmir Office hold observer member status, are prevented by police forces. Joining these press conferences or even being present at the press conference venue are considered enough to be arrested. Activists are subjected to excessive use of violence and arrested after they face reverse standing handcuff.

On 9 February, 49 peace activists including İHD İzmir Branch President Ms. Gurbet Uçar, HRFT Executive Committee member Mr. Coşkun Üsterci, İHD Board member Mr. Nizamettin Aktaş and Egitimsen (Teachers’ Union) İzmir Branch No 1 President Mr. Bahri Akkan were arrested. Riot police forces, which intervened and used excessive force against human rights defenders, used rubber bullet and shot İHD Executive Committee member Mr. Mehmet Aker’s leg and he was injured.

Our friends were kept in police vehicles for over three hours since there was no arrest warrant by a public prosecutor. Then, they were taken to İzmir Security Directorate. Ms. Gurbet Uçar was released by police forces.

The Governorship of İzmir should stop its illegal practices, which the Governorship attempt to exercise in any democratic event and are contrary to human rights.

Our executive committee members and activists must be released.

We call on the Government to obey UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998) and to initiate all judicial, administrative investigations against responsible officers.

Read more