Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Turkey

Harassment of IHD members

Death threats against four IHD executives52

On 19 and 21 April 2005, four executives of the Human Rights Association in Turkey, (Insan Haklari Dernegi – IHD), Mrs. Kiraz Biçici, vice-president, Mrs. Eren Keskin, president of the Istanbul branch, Mr. Dogan Genç, member of the General Executive Board, and Mr. Saban Dayanan, member of the Board of the Istanbul branch, received death threats at their homes and their offices.

These letters, which followed other messages with threats that were e-mailed to the association over the previous two months, were signed by an armed ultra-nationalist group called the Turkish Revenge Brigade (Türkçü Intikam Tugayi – TIT). This group, responsible for the armed attack perpetrated against the IHD headquarters in Ankara in 1988, during which an attempt had been made on the life of the then IHD president, Mr. Akin Birdal, stated in their messages that the four members of the IHD might not be as lucky as Mr. Birdal, who had survived the attack.

By the end of 2005, Mrs. Biçici was still regularly receiving death threats on her mobile phone. Although she filed a large number of complaints, no action was taken.

Mr. Dogan Genç also continued to receive similar threats in emails. An inquiry into these threats was allegedly opened at the end of 2005 in response to a complaint filed by the organisation.

Lastly, Mrs. Eren Keskin continued to receive death threats by letter and phone message. She was to be heard soon by the Prosecutor of Beyoglu (Istanbul), as part of a joint judicial action brought by IHD, the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (Mazlum-Der) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) against Mr. Semih Tufan Günaltay, head of the National Unity Party (Ulusal Birlik Partisi – UBP).

Mrs. Eren Keskin was also informed that further proceedings were initiated against her following the publication of an IHD press release on the assassination of an activist during a peaceful demonstration in Istanbul. She was accused of "publishing a press release without a permit", even though the law does not require a permit for this kind of activity.

Ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Ridvan Kizgin53

In 2005, three new cases were filed against Mr. Ridvan Kizgin, president of the IHD Bingöl section.

On 1 February 2005, the Court of First Instance of Bingöl indicted Mr. Kizgin with "insulting an acting official in the press" after he had published an IHD urgent appeal, broadcast by a number of local press agencies, about the rape of a young girl to whom the organisation was providing legal aid.

On 26 April 2005, the Bingöl Provincial Gendarmerie Command initiated proceedings against Mr. Kizgin for "supporting and encouraging an illegal organisation, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK-Kongra-Gel)", and on 30 June 2005, the General Gendarmerie Command, the Bingöl Provincial Gendarmerie Command and the Bingöl Police Department accused him of "praising a criminal and an insult against the State".

Furthermore, many other judicial proceedings filed against him in 2004 remained pending by the end of 2005.

Judicial proceedings against IHD members in south-eastern Turkey54

Proceedings against Mrs. Reyhan Yalcindag, IHD vice-president, and Mr. Anatolia Mihdi Perinçek, head of the eastern and south-eastern regions of IHD, were initiated by the office of the Prosecutor in Diyarbakir following the publication of a press release and a report.

Mr. Perinçek and Mr. Selahattin Demirtas, president of the IHD section in Diyarbakir, was also charged by the Prosecutor office in Diyarbakir with "circulating secret information", following the publication of a report on the assassination of a twelve-year-old child and his father, into which an investigation had been in progress.

Harassment of HRFT members

Judicial proceedings against Mr. Mustafa Cinkilic and Mr. Mehmet Antmen55

On 4 October 2005, the first hearing was held in the case brought against Mr. Mustafa Cinkilic, a lawyer and a member of the Adana section of HRFT, and Mr. Mehmet Antmen, a doctor working with that section, before the Adana Criminal Court of First Instance.

Mr. Cinkilic and Dr. Antmen were charged with "concealing evidence" and "forging official documents" following the drafting of a medical report on the status of Mr. Sükrü Boyav's health, held for two years in an E type prison,56 where he had been subjected to ill-treatments. Based on this report, Mr. Boyav had filed a complaint with the Prosecutor office against the penitentiary administration and prison guards.

On 16 September 2004, Messrs. Antmen and Cinkilic had been interrogated concerning the report and had stated that they had been unable to supply the original version. The police had then placed them in detention and requested an arrest warrant on charges of "obstructing" the investigation. The Court had rejected the request and ordered their release.

Judicial proceedings against Mr. Alp Ayan and Mrs. Günseli Kaya57

On 13 February 2004, Mr. Alp Ayan and Mrs. Günseli Kaya, both HRFT members, had been sentenced by the Aliaga Criminal Court of First Instance to eighteen months in prison for "using violence to resist law enforcement officers" (Articles 32-1 and 32-3 of Law 2911 relative to meetings and demonstrations), following their participation in the funeral, on 30 September 1999, of Mr. Nevzat Ciftci, a prisoner killed during a police operation at the Ulucanlar prison in Ankara on 26 September 1999. They had been attacked by a group of gendarmes attempting to prevent them from attending the funeral service. Sixty-nine persons had been arrested and fourteen of them, including Mr. Alp Ayan and Mrs. Günseli Kaya, had been placed in custody pending trial for four months.

Another defendant, Mr. Adnan Akin, sentenced to 3 years in prison, had appealed against the verdict.

By the end of 2005, the case remained pending before the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Legal proceedings against Mr. Yavuz Önen58

On 24 September 2003, the State Prosecutor office in Izmir had appealed before the Supreme Court of Appeal, asking the court to overturn the decision of the Izmir Criminal Court of First Instance that had acquitted Mr. Yavuz Önen, HRFT president. Mr. Önen had been sentenced on 27 March 2001 to a prison term and a fine, the sentence being subsequently commuted to a heavy fine, for having expressed his indignation with respect to the charges brought against Mrs. Kaya and Mr. Ayan in an article published in the daily Cumhuriyet on 19 January 2000.

By the end of 2005, the proceedings were still pending.

Confirmation of the verdict against Mrs. Sefica Gürbüz59

On 19 January 2004, the State Security Court in Istanbul had sentenced Mrs. Sefica Gürbüz, president of the Turkish NGO GÖC-DER (Immigrants for Social and Cultural Co-operation), to a fine of 2,180 million Turkish liras (1,280 euros). Mr. Mehmet Barut, member of the organisation, had been acquitted.

Mrs. Sefika Gürbüz and Mr. Mehmet Barut had been charged under Article 312/2 of the Turkish Criminal Code with "inciting hostility and hate on the basis of class, race, religion, beliefs, and regional origin". The charges had been brought following statements made during a press conference organised by GÖC-DER in April 2002 for the presentation of a report on the forced displacement of the Kurdish population. The court had convicted Mrs. Sefica Gürbüz despite the fact that the amendment made in August 2002 to Article 312/2 restricted its application. Since that date, no one can be convicted on the basis of this article unless the incitement in question may endanger the peace and public order.

In November 2005, the Eighth Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeal, to which Mrs. Gürbüz had appealed, upheld the verdict handed down by the State Security Court in Istanbul.

Cancellation of the dismantling of the trade union Egitim Sen60

On 25 May 2005, the Supreme Court in Ankara ruled that the statutes of Egitim Sen, the largest teachers' union, were in breach of several provisions of the Constitution as well as provisions of the law on the recognition of trade unions, and ordered the organisation to shut down. The Court based its decision on Article 20 of Law 4688 on civil servants trade unions, which stipulates that the administration and activities of trade unions established under the law may not conflict with the basic democratic principles of the Turkish Republic as provided in the Constitution.

The court ruled that one of the provisions in the statutes of Egitim Sen, to the effect that the organisation "defends the individual's right to education in his or her mother tongue and to the development of cultures", violated Articles 3 and 42 of the Constitution, which establish that the Turkish nation is an indivisible entity and that the Turkish language is the only one to be taught to citizens.

On 3 July 2005, at an extraordinary congress, a majority of representatives of the organisation voted to remove this article from the statutes. Following this move, the union filed a new request with the Second Labour Court in Ankara that the Supreme Court decision be overturned.

The same day, Egitim Sen filed a request for summary action with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 26 October 2005, the Second Labour Court in Ankara overturned the Supreme Court decision, ruling that the charges against Egitim Sen were no longer valid in view of the changes made to its statutes. The Prosecutor, who had eight days to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court, abandoned the case. As a consequence, the organisation remained open.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

52. See Press Release, 21 April 2005.

53. See Annual Report 2004.

54. Idem.

55. Idem.

56. Prisons built in 2000, in which detainees are placed in solitary confinement.

57. See Annual Report 2004 and Report of the judicial observation mission of the Observatory, Turkey: Human Rights Defenders on Trial, February 2005.

58. See Annual Report 2004.

59. Idem.

60. Idem.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.