Arrests / Ill-treatments / Judicial proceedings - TUR 001 / 0406 / 045

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (HRA) about the arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment of several human rights defenders over the past days 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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on 4 April 2006, Mr. Ali Oncu and Mr. Edip Yasar, members of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association (HRA), were arrested and detained by an anti-terrorism branch of the security force. On 5 April 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".

On 2 April 2006, Mr. Erdal Kuzu, lawyer and Secretary General of the Mardin branch of HRA, and Mr. Hüseyin Cangir, Chairperson of the HRA Mardin branch, 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 several hours later, they were examined and medical reports attested ill-treatments against both of them.

On 29 March 2006, Mr. Resit Yaray, board member of the HRA Batman branch, and Mr. Mursel Kayar, member of the HRA Batman branch, were arrested by police officers and detained in the Directorate of Security in Batman. They were reportedly attacked, beaten by police officers and sustained injuries as a result. On 2 April 2006, they were heard by the Public Prosecutor of Batman. 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. They were charged with "assisting and supporting illegal organisations".

On 30 March 2006, Mr. Mecail Ozel, member of the Diyarbakir Branch of HRA, 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 3 April 2006. On 4 April 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.

Several people allegedly disappeared during the incidents over the past days. Indeed, since 28 March 2006, several provinces of the South East and East regions of Turkey are the scene of violent riots between Kurdish citizens and security forces, which erupted following the funerals of Kurdish rebels killed in fighting with the army in Mus-Bingol area, on 24 March 2006. According to the figures gathered by HRA, over 600 people would currently be detained. The Observatory is particularly concerned as lawyers are prevented from having access to the detainees, in flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Turkey in September 2003 and, in particular, its Art. 14.3, which stipulates that "In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: (...) b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing". The Observatory also considers access to a lawyer as a guarantee of the protection of all persons under detention or imprisonment, in compliance with Art.11 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment ratified by Turkey in August 1988.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey urging them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Erdal Kuzu, Mr. Hüseyin Cangir, Mr. Resit Yaray, Mr. Mursel Kayar, and Mr. Mecail Ozel, 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;

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.

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;

- Interior Minister, Mr Abdulkadir Aksu, Ministry of Interior, Içisleri Bakanligi, 06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95,

- Justice Minister, Mr Cemil Cicek, Ministry of Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi , 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 5667,

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

- 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 :, 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, April 7, 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 :
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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