Turkey: Arbitrary detention of 13 prominent human rights lawyers

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,

President of the Republic of Turkey, 

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights activist, and Freelance Journalist.

According to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders  they have been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of 13 prominent human rights lawyers from Diyarbakır,Urfa and Şırnak, namely Messrs. Mesut BeştaşÖzkan AvcıZeynep IşıkBahar Oktayand Osman Çelik, from the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Messrs. Hidayet EnmekSevda Özbingöl ÇelikEmrah BaranHüseyin İzolMetin ÖzbademCemo Tüysüz and Şeyhmus İnal, from the Şanlıurfa Bar Association, and Mr. Gürgün Kadirhan,from the Şırnak Bar Association.

 According to the information received, early in the morning of March 12, 2020, the houses and offices of Messrs. Mesut Beştaş, Özkan Avcı, Zeynep Işık, Bahar Oktay, Osman Çelik, Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin İzol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz, Şeyhmus İnal and Gürgün Kadirhan were raided, and they were all, except for Mr Mesut Beştaş, taken into police custody, within the scope of an investigation conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office in Urfa. A detention order was also issued for Mr Mesut Beştaş, but he was not yet taken into custody. The thirteen lawyers are being accused of “assisting a terrorist organisation” (Article 220/7 of the Turkish Criminal Code) through enabling communication between convicts in prison. All lawyers’ computers and some case files in two lawyers’ offices were seized. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, no further information was available as the investigation was kept confidential, and all lawyers, except for Mr Mesut Beştaş, remained in police custody at Urfa Police Directorate.

 I firmly condemn the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Messrs. Mesut Beştaş, Özkan Avcı, Zeynep Işık, Bahar Oktay, Osman Çelik, Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin İzol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz, Şeyhmus İnal, and Gürgün Kadirhan, which appear to be only aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities as human rights lawyers. 

I call on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey.

 

Actions requested:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Özkan Avcı, Zeynep Işık, Bahar Oktay, Osman Çelik, Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin İzol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz, Şeyhmus İnal, Gürgün Kadirhan and Mesut Beştaş as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

 

ii. Release immediately and unconditionally Messrs. Özkan Avcı, Zeynep Işık, Bahar Oktay, Osman Çelik, Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin İzol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz, Şeyhmus İnal and Gürgün Kadirhan and all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Turkey, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities;

 

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mesut Beştaş, Özkan Avcı, Zeynep Işık, Bahar Oktay, Osman Çelik, Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin İzol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz, Şeyhmus İnaland Gürgün Kadirhan and all human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;

 

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular, its Articles 1 and 12;

 

v. Ensure in all circumstances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms following international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.

I hope that you will pay serious consideration to the concerns expressed in this letter.

 

Yours Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes,

Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist

York, United Kingdom

 

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