Turkey: Arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of 49 individuals participating in a press conference organised by the İzmir Peace Block

Urgent Appeal

TUR 001 / 0216 / OBS 017
Arbitrary arrest / Release / Harassment
February 11, 2016

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) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of 49 individuals for their participation in a press conference organised by the İzmir Peace Block to protest against human rights violations in Cizre (South-eastern Anatolia Region of Turkey) and call for peace.

According to the information received, on February 9, 2016, 49 individuals including Ms. Gurbet Uçar, President of İHDİzmir Branch, Mr. Nizamettin Aktaş,İHD Central Executive Board member, Mr. Coşkun Üsterci, HRFT Executive Committee member, and Mr. Bahri Akkan, President of Egitimsen (Teachers’ Union) İzmir First Branch, were arrested in İzmir by the police while attending a press conference organised by the İzmir Peace Block. As the conference was about to begin, riot police forces forcefully entered the location, using excessive force including rubber bullets, against the participants. Mr. Mehmet Aker, İHD Executive Committee member, was shot in the leg and injured.

The 49 activists were kept in police vehicles for over three hours without any arrest warrant, before being taken to İzmir Security Directorate. 38 of them were released on the same day. The other 11 activists remained in police custody overnight and were released the following day. The 49 are facing charges for violating the law on assemblies, marches and demonstrations (Law No. 2911) and doing propaganda for an illegal organisation.

The police intervention and arrests are based on a directive issued by the İzmir Governorship banning all press conferences organised by the İzmir Peace Block. Both IHD İzmir Branch and HRFT İzmir Office hold observer member status in the İzmir Peace Block.

The Observatory recalls that this wave of arbitrary arrests and detentions is part of wide-range anti-terrorism operations, started in late July 2015. The operations turned into a massive crackdown on some civil society organisations depicted as “terrorist networks”. This campaign has been targeting dozens of peaceful activists who have been involved in the monitoring of human rights violations resulting from anti-terrorism operations and who have been advocating for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue. These peaceful activists include human rights defenders, particularly IHD members, lawyers, political party representatives and journalists [1].

The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to immediately put an end to the ongoing harassment against human rights defenders, and particularly İHD members, since it only seems to aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms.Gurbet Uçar and Messrs. Nizamettin Aktaş, Bahri Akkan, Mehmet Aker and Coşkun Üsterci as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Ms. Gurbet Uçar and Messrs. Nizamettin Aktaş, Bahri Akkan, Mehmet Aker and Coşkun Üsterci, as well as other İHDand HRFT members and all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iii. Put an end to the crackdown on civil society under the pretext of countering terrorism and publicly recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders in line with Turkey’s international commitments;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:

- its Article 1, which provides that “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 levels”;

- its Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

- its 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”;

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.


· President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
· Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu tel: (0312) 422 10 00 ; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara - Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr
· Minister of Interior, Mr. Efkan Ala; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00;Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr
· Ambassador 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
· Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: mission.turkey@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Turkey in your respective country.

Paris-Geneva, February 11, 2016

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

The Observatory, an 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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