Treasury Sanctions Egyptian Terrorists Harbored by Turkey
The U.S. Department of the Treasury last Thursday designated two Egyptian terrorists based in Turkey for “being leaders of HASM,” the acronym for Harakat Sawa’d Misr (Arms of Egypt Movement), which Treasury first sanctioned in 2018. The new designations – the fourth set since April 2019 targeting a Turkey-based terrorist network – expose the extent to which radical Islamists thrive in the permissive environment Ankara has cultivated. Read the full article
“We are the few journalists who resist through writing in Kurdish” - Gülistan Korban
Turkey is one of the most prolific jailers of journalists worldwide, with at least 37 currently imprisoned and many more awaiting trial.
Pressure from the authorities is particularly acute in the country’s predominantly Kurdish south-east region, where independent reporting is crucial to covering the ongoing internal conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been fighting an armed insurgency against the Turkish state for four decades. Read the full article
Turkey’s religious affairs directorate publishes fatwa against ‘evil eye’ symbol
The Diyanet, Turkey’s government religious affairs authority, has published a religious opinion stating that the Nazar, or evil eye symbol, is contrary to Islamic teachings, Turkish online news website T24 reported on Tuesday.
In a book of religious opinions published in December, on ‘Medical and Health-Related Fatwas’, the Diyanet says that "Islam prohibits the attitude that attributes the final effect to anyone other than Allah. It is not permissible to seek help from the evil eye bead." Read the full article
A court on January 7 accepted an indictment into the incidents that left more than 40 people dead in the Kurdish-majority eastern and southeastern provinces. As many as 108 people, mostly HDP members are facing aggravated life sentences on "terrorism" charges for orchestrating the events.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office will request the lift of the immunities of the HDP's parliamentary group deputy chairs Meral Danış-Beştaş and Hakkı Saruhan Oluç, as well as MPs Garo Paylan, Sezai Temelli, Serpil Kemalbay, Hüda Kaya, Pero Dündar and Fatma Kurtulan. Read the full article
Increasing political violence in Turkey recalls dark days of the 1990s
Violence directed at political opponents of the Turkish state has been on the increase recently, with the Deputy Head of the Future Party being violently attacked in his car, a day after threats from the Deputy Head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) against him. The Future Party’s Selçuk Özdağ was attacked by 5 people as he got into his car in Ankara on Jan. 15, according to Duvar. Özdağ was immediately taken to hospital for treatment after losing a lot of blood. Read the full article
Lawyer reprimanded by Istanbul Bar Association after 'insulting the president'
The Istanbul Bar Association has reprimanded a Human Rights lawyer accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Bianet reported on Friday.
Eren Keskin, who co-chairs the Ankara-based Human Rights Association, was convicted of insulting the president in May 2017.
The year is 2020: What happened?!
In the trials concerning these journalists, the prosecutor’s offices demanded 12 counts of aggravated life sentence, and a total of 1309 years, 3 months, 15 days to 3182 years, 6 months, 15 days in prison.
Furthermore, a total of 1 million 869 thousand TL was requested from the journalists in non-pecuniary damages. Read the full article
'My father was a seasonal worker; I am a garbage worker'
Ali lives in one of the Karacadağ villages lined between Turkey’s southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa. Like many young people living in those villages, the 17-year-old goes to work collecting and sorting garbage every year. Ali asked to use a pseudonym for this article.
“We can find jobs in metropolitan cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and sometimes in Diyarbakır, but mostly Syrians work in the garbage business here,” he said. “Sometimes we go around for hours and sift through the garbage for a piece of paperboard or a piece of iron.”
Families send over kids as young as 15-year-old kids there. They would love to find other work, but there are no job opportunities. Everyone in the area moves to the cities to work. Read the full article
Covid-19 Pandemic Used to Strengthen Autocratic Rule
The Covid-19 pandemic in Turkey has enabled the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deepen autocratic rule by silencing critics and rapidly passing restrictive new laws to limit dissent, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2021.
In 2020, Turkish authorities used the pretext of the pandemic to ban demonstrations by opposition parties and government critics and to target critics of the government. When introducing an early release program to ease prison overcrowding, the government deliberately excluded thousands of arbitrarily jailed prisoners from eligibility and rushed in new laws to deepen censorship of social media platforms and curb the authority of bar associations vocal on Turkey’s rule of law crisis. At the year end, the government passed a new law enabling arbitrary restriction of civil society organizations and threatening the right to freedom of association. Read the full article
Reports about torture and ill-treatment in Turkey
| HRFT Documentation Center Human Rights Report
1 - 12 January 2021 about torture and ill-treatment in Turkey.
(01/076) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison
It is learned from the news coverage of January 8, 2021 that, 76 prisoners are kept in the quarantine ward of Antalya E Type Prison.
It is learned from the news coverage of January 8, 2021 that, in Antalya L Type Prison, 30 litres of hot and 150 litres of cold water is provided to each ward and the food given to prisoners is inadequate.
It is learned from the news coverage of January 9, 2021 that in Van High Security Prison, Evrensel, Yeni Yaşam and Kurdish Xwebun newspapers were not given to prisoners.
(01/078) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Hakkari
It is learned that 2 people (Ekber Hudai and İbrahim Fırat) were subjected to torture and ill-treatment of security forces during house raids in Güldalı village of Yüksekova district of Hakkari on January 9, 2021. It is learned that some houses in the village were raided by the security forces during an operation on the grounds of cigarette smuggling.
Lawyer Ramazan Kurt stated the following about the torture and ill-treatment: “The house was searched and my clients were detained although they had no search and detention warrant. (…) My clients were heavily subjected to torture and they were forced to confess despite there were no evidence in the house. My clients rejected to this. Although they were not even suspects, the police detained them and took to the security directorate, to cover the torture and insults that they committed. (…) Security forces contacted family members of my clients to pressure them so that they would not file criminal complaints against them. (…) And my clients were said not to tell their families what happened. But family members do not accept, they will file criminal complaints”.
(01/090) Non-Prosecution on Allegation of Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison
It is learned from the news coverage of January 9, 2021 that, Osmaniye Public Prosecutor’s Office decided on non-prosecution of torture and ill-treatment of the correction officers that Ferhat Demirbaş, a prisoner in Osmaniye T Type Prison No 1 was subjected on September 18, 2018.
Osmaniye Public Prosecutor’s Office has made the same decision on the issue earlier, but it was revoked by Osmaniye Penal Court of Peace on the grounds of “deficit in investigation”.
(01/062) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison
It is learned from the news coverage of January 7, 2021 that, Harun Kaya, a prisoner in Kürkçüler F Type Prison was subjected to disciplinary proceedings for his notes on a book, and that he was penalised to 15 days of solitary cell confinement as a result of disciplinary proceedings.
Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Istanbul
It is learned that lawyer Eren Keskin, co-chair of Human Rights Association (IHD) who went to Security Directorate of Istanbul on January 6, 2021 to visit 36 people under custody, were not allowed to see detainees. 36 people were detained in house raids in Istanbul, following the protests at Boğaziçi University on January 4, 2021; and they were subjected to torture and ill-treatment including strip search under custody.
It is reported that detention period for 36 people was extended to 48 hours.
(01/035) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Istanbul
It is learned from the news coverage of January 5, 2021 that, 22 people who were detained in house raids in Istanbul following the protest at Boğaziçi University on January 4, 2021; were forced to lie down on the ground with handcuffs behind their backs; and they were subjected to physical violence of the police while they were put in detention car. It is also reported that those who reject to strip search were subjected to physical violence of the police.
It is reported that one person fell sick during a house raid. It is learned that the house of Sultan Aksu, local authority of Yeldeğirmeni neighbourhood in Kadıköy district of Istanbul through this investigation; and the people in the house were forced to lie down. It is learned that the police “apologized” and left the house after finding out that it was the house of local authority. It is reported that the police, raiding a house where nobody is in, demolished the wall nearby the door.
(01/036) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison
It is learned from the news coverage of January 5, 2020 that, in Tekirdağ F Type Prison No 2, prisoners were given daily 10-15 litres of water, which should be 200 litres.
It is learned from the news coverage of January 5, 2021 that, journalist Adnan Bilen who is kept in Van High Security Prison was not given Kurdish newspaper Xwebun.
(01/023) Torture and Ill-Treatment Under Custody in Istanbul
It is learned from the news coverage of January 5, 2021 that, 2 people (Roni Dıtın Gören and Ferhat Can) who were detained in the police intervention to the protest at Boğaziçi University on January 4, 2021; were forced to strip search under custody and their clothes were forcibly taken off by the police using physical violence.
It is learned that LGBTIQ+ activists Yıldız İdil Şen and Havin Coşkun, who were among 17 people detained in house raids in Istanbul, for participating in protests at Boğaziçi University; were forced to strip search under custody, and were subjected to physical and psychological violence and rape threats.
(01/005) Person Subjected to Torture and Ill-Treatment in Military
It is learned from the news coverage of January 2, 2021 that, Hasan Düdük, who was on compulsory military service at Armoured Brigade Command No 3 in Çerkezköy district of Tekirdağ, was subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
Hasan Düdük was subjected to physical violence of specialised sergeant R. K. for he did not participate in cleaning activity on November 10, 2020, and he stated the following: “I went to the infirmary to be referred to a hospital that could give me a medical report evidencing the violence; the specialised sergeant who was accompanying me there, tried to persuade the doctor for not giving me a document for referral to the hospital (…) Although I got a referral document, the commander did not allow me to go to the hospital (…) I went to Çerkezköy Public Hospital in some way, and got a report evidencing the violence (…)
I deserted from the military post because I could not stand all of these, but I went back there after 8 hours. (…) When I was taken to military prosecutor to make official statement, I wrote down a statement which covers everything, but my superiors tore up it because I mentioned that I was beaten. I make my statement verbally and I told everything to the prosecutor. I was them beaten by another master sergeant for I did not change my statement, and my toenail was broken due to this.”
It is stated in the news reports that Hasan Düdük filed criminal complaints against the officers in charge.
(01/006) Torture and Ill-Treatment in Prison…
It is learned from the news coverage of December 31, 2020 that, social, cultural and sports rights of prisoners in Kayseri Bünyan T Type Prison were restricted, and Yeni Yaşam and Evrensel newspapers were not given to them although there is no ban imposed on these newspapers.
Black Sites in Turkey
In a near-repeat of the CIA’s ‘extraordinary renditions’, the regime of Turkish president Erdoğan is kidnapping dozens of members of the Gülen movement from around the world. Victims are now raising a serious accusation: secret torture sites are part of the repression. A team of nine media organizations from eight countries, coordinated by CORRECTIV, investigates. Read the story
Turkey's Academic Community in Paralysis
Following a four-year crackdown and
a massive purge of scholars, Turkey's
academic community is now severely
paralyzed, while thousands of dismissed
academics still await justice, facing
lengthy delays in appealing their
dismissals and unable to work
in academia. Read the report.
The Kobanî massacre and the protests afterwards.
The Kobanî massacre was a combination of suicide missions and attacks on Kurdish civilians by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the Kurdish-held city of Kobanî, beginning on Thursday, 25 June, and culminating on Friday, 26 June 2015. The attacks continued into 28 June. Read about the attack and the later protests
Torture and ill-treatment in Turkey
Every month, human rights organizations, the media and victims report cases of torture and ill-treatment in Turkish prisons and police stations. Here are some sources:
Operation Gladio B (II)
Operation Gladio B was a classified ongoing expansion of Operation Gladio. The original Gladio was established just after the end of World War II by a small number of senior officials withinOSS/CIA, MI6 and NATO. This was a top secret network of fascist "stay-behind" cells trained to carry out acts of terrorism in the event of a Soviet invasion.
The Imam's Army
The Imam's Army (Turkish: İmamın Ordusu) is a book by Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık on the life and work of Fethullah Gülen and his Gülen movement.
Şık was detained in March 2011, before the book was published, and the draft book was seized by the government and banned, claiming it was an "illegal organizational document" of the secret organization Ergenekon.
Turkey’s new law designed to prevent terrorism financing raises the possibility that rights groups may be abolished in the country, said Tarık Beyhan, a director at Amnesty International in Turkey.
“This law provides the interior minister with the authority to shut down any group whenever he wants without a chance for appeal,” Beyhan said, according to the Financial Times.
The bill, drafted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), was introduced to comply with a United Nations Security Council counterterrorism resolution and was approved in response to a 2019 report by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money-laundering and terrorism financing watchdog.
Turkey’s parliament passed the "Law on Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” on early on Sunday. It subjects non-governmental organisations to Interior Ministry inspections and requests for permission to accept donations, limiting online fundraising. It also allows the government to appoint trustees to NGO boards and halt their activities based on inspection reports rather than a court decision.
“Additional provisions were added secretly with the ulterior motive of further limiting the freedom of civil society to organise and assemble,” Beyhan said. “Human rights groups are frequently exposed to terrorism accusations (and) this law relies on ambiguous definitions of terrorism to render associations dysfunctional.”
The oversight rules for NGOs apply to a myriad of civil society groups, from rights advocates to sports associations to religious groups, the FT said.
A crackdown on civil society in Turkey intensified after 2016, when the government declared a state of emergency following a failed military coup and presidential decrees shut down 1,748 foundations and associations in the span of two years.
Turkey: the rise and fall of the Kurdish party
that threatened Erdoğan
Press In Arrest November 2020 Press Freedom Report
In November in Turkey, in at least 30 press-related trials in 8 provinces, at least 40 journalists were prosecuted. 8 of them were women.
The full report:
In November in Turkey,
Suppression of the freedoms of press and expression in Turkey continued with ongoing trials and new investigations in November, while detentions and arrests concerning the Mesopotamia Agency (MA) were of particular importance.
In October, Mesopotamia Agency’s reporters Adnan Bilen and Cemil Uğur, and Jinnews reporters Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala, were arrested for alleged “membership of an armed terror organization”, after reporting on how two citizens were detained and thrown out of a helicopter by security forces in the Çatak district of Van province. In November, numerous MA reporters faced investigations and detentions, while another of its Van reporters, Dindar Karataş was arrested.
- In November in Turkey, in at least 30 press-related trials in 8 provinces, at least 40 journalists were prosecuted. 8 of them were women.
In the trials concerning these 40 journalists, the prosecutor’s offices, demanded 2 counts of aggravated life sentence, and a total of 201 years 4 months to 497 years 2 months in prison.
A total of 1 million 470 thousand TL was requested in non-pecuniary damages in claims for damages against 3 journalists and 3 media outlets.
Women journalists appearing before a judge faced 33 years 7 months 15 days to 86 years 1 month 15 days in prison.
Two female journalists presented their defense in lawsuits where they faced 1 million 270 thousand TL in claims for damages.
In November, journalist Hazal Ocak faced a total of 1 million 220 thousand TL in non-pecuniary damages in three separate claims for damages in November.
- 28 journalists were prosecuted in high criminal courts, and 11 in criminal courts of first instance:
At least 28 journalists appeared before a judge in high criminal courts.
Trials against at least 11 journalists continued at criminal courts of first instance.
Under the scope of lawsuits for damages, 3 journalists and 3 media outlets appeared in civil courts of first instance.
- 22 journalists were charged as per “Anti-Terror Law”:
At least 22 journalists had to present their defense statements against charges of terrorism offenses
At least 8 journalists were charged with “membership of an armed terror organization,”
7 journalists with “spreading propaganda for a terror organization,” and
3 journalists with “targeting a state official who took part in anti-terrorism efforts.”
On the other hand, at least 6 journalists were charged with “knowingly and willing aiding a terror organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”.
- 9 journalists were accused of “insult”:
A total of 9 journalists appeared before a judge for alleged “insult”.
At least 6 journalists continued to stand trial for “insulting the President.” In this scope, two journalists were sentenced to prison.
3 journalists charged with “insulting a state official” were acquitted.
- “Publicly inciting the population to hatred and enmity”, “slander”, “disclosing confidential information concerning the state’s security and domestic and foreign interests” etc.
At least 3 journalists continued to face the charge of “publicly inciting the population to hatred and enmity” in ongoing trials.
One journalist was charged with “intentionally damaging the reputation or assets of a bank, or disseminating groundless news stories,”
One journalist with “slander,”
One journalist with “showing resistance to prevent an official from performing their duty,”
One journalist with “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through force and violence” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through force and violence,” and
Four journalists with “disclosing confidential information concerning the state’s security and domestic and foreign interests”…
- 10 journalists in total started being retried:
10 journalists appealed the verdicts of the district courts in courts of appeal and Court of Cassation, which overturned the previous verdicts.
District courts complied with the decisions of the courts of appeal and Court of Cassation, and as a result 10 journalists started being retried in district courts.
In November, the first hearings were held in these retrials against a total of 10 journalists.
- 4 journalists were handed down prison sentences:
In November, at least 4 journalists were sentenced to a total of 19 years, 11 months in prison.
Journalist Ali Ergin Demirhan was sentenced to 1 year, 2 months and 17 days in prison for “publicly insulting the President.”
Journalist Onur Emre Yağan was sentenced to 1 year, 2 months, 17 days in prison for “publicly insulting the President in a continuous manner” even though President Tayyip Erdoğan had withdrawn his complaint. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict.
Journalist Mehmet Baransu was sentenced to a total of 17 years, 1 months in prison on the charges of “obtaining confidential information”, “disclosing this information in a continuous manner” and “obtaining and publishing information and documents regarding the activities of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT)”
Journalist Yılmaz Özdil was sentenced to 5 months in prison under a trial for “violating the Military Penal Code”. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict.
- 4 journalists were acquitted:
On trial for allegedly “insulting a state official on duty” due to a news story from the time when he served as editor-in-chief, journalist Uğur Güç was acquitted.
The court acquitted journalists Uğur Koç and Mustafa Kömüş from the charge of “publicly insulting a state official on duty” in the lawsuit filed upon a criminal complaint by the ex-Minister of Treasury and Finance, Berat Albayrak.
In a trial where he was prosecuted alongside Mehmet Baransu since 2014, journalist Murat Şevki Çoban was acquitted of the charges.
- Trials of 33 journalists were adjourned:
The trials of 33 journalists appearing before a judge in November were adjourned. The trial of two journalists in İzmir was postponed since an earthquake damaged the courthouse.
The Press in Arrest team reported the following in the trials that it monitored:
- 3 journalists on remand presented their defense speeches via SEGBİS:
Journalists Aziz Oruç, Mehmet Baransu and İsmail Çoban attended the trials from prison, via the Audio and Video Information System (SEGBİS).
İsmail Çoban attended a hearing via SEGBİS from prison, where he is held due to another investigation against him.
Mehmet Baransu attended via SEGBİS the verdict hearing of a trial ongoing since 2014.
- Panel of judges were changed in 10 journalists’ trials:
In the November hearings of the trials against at least 10 journalists, it was observed that the panel of judges had changed.
These 10 journalists had to submit their defense statements against the charges before a new panel of judges/new judges.
- “Presumption of innocence” was violated and the independence of the court was compromised in 3 hearings concerning 4 journalists:
In November, the hearings in 3 ongoing press trials against journalists Müyesser Yıldız, İsmail Dükel, Kenan Kırkaya and Özgür Boğatekin were held in the presence of law enforcement officers / private security guards. As such, the “presumption of innocence” principle was violated in trials in high criminal courts, and the independence of courts was compromised.
- “Publicity of trial” principle was violated 6 times:
In the hearings of at least 6 trials concerning 8 journalists in November, the judges either closed the hearing to the public, or limited the number of observers in the courtroom, citing the measures taken against the coronavirus epidemic. In one case, even the journalist supposed to appear before the judge was not allowed in the courtroom, and he was represented by his lawyer.
'Publicity of Trial' violated under the pretext of the pandemic…
Press in Arrest has observed that, in the press trials held in Turkey since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey, hearings are closed to observers and the public in an arbitrary manner, under the pretext of ‘protection measures’.
Since March 2020, under the pretext of the Covid-19 outbreak, but without complying with a specific criterion or a legal regulation shared with the public, the courts prevent observers, journalists and public from attending various hearings. This compromises the principle of the “publicity of the trial”, an important component of the right to a fair trial, which is secured by national legislation and human rights conventions.
In the period from March to the beginning of December, in 38 hearings concerning 73 journalists, observers were not admitted to the courtroom or a restriction was imposed on the number of observers attending the hearings, under the pretext of the coronavirus outbreak.
On this matter, we have received the opinion of a jurist specializing in human rights Kerem Altıparmak, who stated, “Trials are held publicly to show that the fair trial principle is upheld. As such, closing the hearing to the public can be possible only in exceptional situations clearly stipulated by the law. Since no such legal amendment has been passed, this restriction goes against the law.”
‘The judge cannot organize this alone; the Ministry must provide the physical conditions’
Altıparmak made the following assessment on the closure of hearings to the public and similar limitations: “A legal amendment must first be passed to this effect. When such an amendment is passed, arbitrary decisions will become unacceptable. Such a restriction can be possible only after it is determined how the problems associated with that restriction will be compensated for. Here, the principle of measure will be key: Is closing the trial to the public obligatory, favorable and proportional? This is not something that the judge can organize alone. The legislative organ must provide the legal infrastructure, and the ministry must provide the physical conditions. Only then can the judge take the appropriate measures. Therefore, this must be viewed as a collective responsibility, not an individual one.”
‘This is a clear violation of the Constitution and the Convention’
A lawyer who defends journalists in press trials in Turkey, Tora Pekin remarked “The recent practice of not allowing journalists and observers to the courtrooms is a violation of the Constitution and the Convention”, and provided the following details to Press in Arrest:
“Publicity or openness of trial is one of the main principles in legal proceedings. Such that, it is clearly stipulated in both the Constitution (Art. 141) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Art. 6). Safeguarded by these regulations, the principle is a crucial part of our right to a fair trial, and non-compliance with this principle suggests that the trial in question is not fair.
A short description of the reason for the existence of the principle of publicity will suffice to explain why it is of vital importance in today’s Turkey. In brief, the reason for the openness of trials to the public is to ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the judiciary. Thanks to the openness of trials, the public has the opportunity to control the judiciary. Trials organized behind closed doors cannot be monitored by the public/society/people.
Today, journalists and independent observers attend hearings as monitors and carry out this monitoring on behalf of the public. By independent observers, I mean human rights organizations and advocates, professional organizations, and parliamentarians, that is, people and institutions who have the power to make their voices heard.
In the highly politicized trials in today’s Turkey, such an activity can reduce the arbitrariness of the courts and align the judiciary with the law to a certain extent. In other words, the principle of publicity has gained much more importance in our day and age.
The areas where the principle of publicity may be restricted are also stipulated by law. Closing hearings to the public partially or entirely is possible only if necessitated by general morality, or public safety concerns. On the other hand, courts may of course adopt some measures and enforce social distancing rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For example, a measure such as using only half of the courtroom’s seating capacity may be acceptable.
However, it goes without saying that such measures cannot be implemented in a way which brings about the complete elimination of the principle of publicity. The recent practice of not allowing journalists and observers to the courtrooms is a violation of the Constitution and the Convention. The admission of only lawyers to the hearing does not show that the principle of the publicity of trial is upheld. Lawyers are already there as ‘parties’. It should also be indicated that such closed trials harm not only the sense of justice of the parties and the society at large. The impression that the judiciary wants to ‘conceal certain things’ does great harm to the judiciary as well. Since there are immense violations of law even in public, we are under no obligation to trust trials and verdicts behind closed doors.”
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women…
November 25th was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Istanbul Convention describes violence against women as ‘violation of human rights’ and ‘discrimination’.
Violence against women comprises threats, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
Violence against women results in “physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women”.
It is unacceptable for journalists to be tried for simply doing their job, and prosecution of women journalists for practicing their profession is another form of “violence against women”.
According to Press in Arrest’s database,
In the last two years, at least 89 women journalists have faced 84 press trials in Turkey.
As of today, at least 64 women journalists still face at least one press trial, without arrest.
In the last two years, the district courts have handed down one aggravated life imprisonment and at least 71 years, 7 months and 18 days in prison for at least 21 women journalists.
In the last two years in Turkey, women journalists
have been tried as per 26 articles of the Turkish Penal Code, and 3 articles of the Anti-Terror Law.
In the last two years in Turkey, 78 out of at least 89 women journalists have been tried as per the Anti-Terror Law.
42 of them stand trial for “spreading propaganda for a terror organization” pursuant to Anti-Terror Law, Article 7. 11 women journalists have been sentenced to prison as per Article 7.
In November, female journalists appeared before a judge, facing a total of 33 years 7 months 15 days to 86 years 1 month 15 days in prison. Two female journalists faced non-pecuniary damages of 1 million 270 thousand TL in total.
Aside from the trials, in November,
- At least 11 journalists were detained, summoned to testify or faced an investigation and/or criminal complaint:
Mesopotamia Agency’s Van reporter Dindar Karataş was detained in a police raid on his home. Karataş’s phone and his camera’s memory card were seized by the police. On the other hand, the Van office of the said agency was raided by the police on the grounds that Karataş worked there, and the police searched the premises. Under the investigation conducted by Erzurum Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Karataş was taken from Van to Erzurum and a gag order was issued for the file.
Journalist Cihan Ölmez was detained in a police raid on his home in Şırnak. Ölmez was released after 4 days in custody.
Mesopotamia Agency’s intern reporter Hakan Yalçın was detained in a police raid on his house in Ankara. He was released on probation after his statement was taken by the police.
Under an investigation launched by Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office 75 people were detained, including Jinnews’ Kurdish-language news editor Roza Metina, also a member of PEN. Metina was released on probation after giving her statement.
Journalists Davut Uçar and Kesire Önel were detained under an investigation by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly “organizing activities in the city for PKK/KCK”. An arrest warrant was issued for journalist Davut Uçar for alleged “membership of an armed terror organization”, and he was then released on probation after giving his statement. Kesire Önel was still under custody as this report was being drafted.
Journalist Çağlar Tekin announced that he was taken into custody in a courthouse where he arrived for a hearing. Tekin stated that the reason for his detention was “sharing a news story which the Anadolu Agency first published and then deleted, concerning the ISIS militants’ use of Turkish Armed Forces vehicles in Syria”. Tekin was released after his statement was taken by the police.
Journalist Melis Alphan announced in her social media account that she had given a statement under an investigation against her. Alphan wrote, “An investigation has been launched against me for ‘spreading propaganda for a terror organization’ due to a photograph which I shared six years ago, from the 2015 Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır, when the Peace Process was still in place. I testified as a suspect. However, the said images were broadcast by all TV channels; the state was there”. Alphan was released after interrogation.
The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against retired journalist Mehmet Yüksel Özbek for sharing in his social media account a news story by Cumhuriyet Newspaper in April 2020. The story was about how the Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun rented a plot of land from General Directorate of Foundations for 10 years for 258 TL per month, and carried out landscaping and construction in this area, and how the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality demolished the structures built.
Journalist Cengizhan Çelik announced in his social media account that he was summoned to testify. At the police station, Çelik was interrogated about some of his social media posts. Çelik stated that the investigation launched upon a criminal complaint by Boğaziçi Center for Global Relations (Bosphorus Global).
An investigation was initiated against journalist Ahmet Kanbal for reporting on the arrest of nine individuals, including the commander of the 2. Border Brigade in Nusaybin, on charges of ‘migrant smuggling’ and ‘bribery’. The investigation was launched upon a complaint which stated that ‘the news story revealed all the details of the investigation’ and thus ‘breached the confidentiality of the investigation’. In his statement, Kanbal rejected the accusations, stating that the news story was designed to inform the general public and that it did not violate the confidentiality of the investigation.
- 2 journalists were released from prison:
Imprisoned pending trial for “disclosing confidential information concerning the state’s security and political interests,” journalist Müyesser Yıldız was released in the first hearing of the trial. Yıldız spent 5 months in prison on remand.
On trial for “membership of an armed terror organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terror organization”, journalist Aziz Oruç was released at the third hearing of the trial. Oruç spent 11 months in prison, pending trial.
- 1 journalist was arrested:
Journalist Dindar Karataş was interrogated under an investigation into his news stories, interviews and phone conversations with news sources. Karataş was then arrested for alleged “membership of an armed terror organization.” The court issued a gag order for the case.
- European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reached a verdict in the Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial:
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced its verdict for the Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial.
ECHR ruled that the journalists’ “rights to liberty and security” and “right of freedom of expression” were violated.
ECHR stated that the journalists’ detention and imprisonment pending trial were not based on reasonable ground.
According to the verdict, Turkey will have to pay 16 thousand euros in compensation to the then employees of the newspaper: Murat Sabuncu, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Güray Öz and Akın Atalay, as well as 3 newspaper executives.
ECHR ruled that journalist Ahmet Şık’s rights of “freedom of expression and press” and “personal security and liberty” were violated when he was imprisoned pending trial for 14 months under the Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial.
The court refused to rule that the trial was politically motivated.
9 years ago, ECHR had ruled that Ahmet Şık’s detention pending trial under the “Oda TV Trial” was also a violation of his rights.
Council of Europe media freedom alerts: Turkey