Release All Detained Human Rights Defenders, Lawyers and CSO Representatives


20 November 2020

Today (20 November 2020), within the scope of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation no.  2019/63324, many rights defenders, lawyers and CSO representatives were detained in Diyarbakır and surrounding provinces in the early hours of the morning. The only detention ground we were able to learn is the set of allegations within the scope of the investigation on the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), which has become almost routine.

Among those detained are Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) Co-chair Lawyer Bünyamin Şeker, Human Rights Association (İHD) Adıyaman Branch Head Lawyer Bülent Temel, ÖHD and İHD member lawyers Abdulkadir Güleç, Eshat Aktaç, Serdar Talay, İmran Gökdere, Diyar Çetedir, Serdar Özer, Feride Laçin, Gamze Yalçın, Gevriye Atlı, Resul Tamur, Cemile Turhallı Balsak, Ahmet Kalpak, Devrim Barış Baran, Neşet Girasun, Sedat Aydın, Mahsum Batı, Şivan Cemil Özen and Haknas Sadak. Apart from these people, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council former Member and current Honorary Board member Dr. Şehmus Gökalp, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Diyarbakır Representative Office employee and social worker Serkan Delidere, Med Federation of Legal Support and Solidarity Associations of the Families of Prisoners and Convicts (TUHAD-FED) board member Diyar Dilek Özer and member Leyla Ayaz, Workers’ Union of Religious Affairs Presidency and Foundations (DİVES) member Süleyman Okur, Bağlar Municipality Council member Panayır Çelik, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır Branch former provincial director İlhami Yürek, Healthcare and Social Service Workers’ Union (SES) member Ümit Çetinkaya, Media, Communication and Postal Workers’ Union (HABER-SEN) member Mehmet Kaçar are also detained.

Summons for interview or interrogation is regulated in Article 145 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL). In an investigation process such as DTK where almost hundreds and even thousands of people are under investigation and prosecution, making early morning raids with detention orders instead of summoning individuals in line with CPL Article 145, is a typical practice of judicial repression.

Almost all of the detainees are lawyers and representatives of organizations waging a struggle for rights and rule of law. While it is possible for these people to be invited for giving statements by a summons letter, the failure to do so demonstrates that the power pressure on democratic institutions is exerted by the judiciary. Especially, although it is a fact that the lawyers are part of the judiciary and are representatives of the defense, their detention in this way also indicates the devaluation of the right of defense and the desire to deprive the citizens of the right to defense.

Although the Minister of Justice had reminded the CPL rules and warned the public prosecutors and judges by reminding that trial without arrest should be the main practice and detention could only be an exceptional measure during the budget debates, it is absolutely unacceptable to continue judicial practices from a security perspective. Whereas the political power declares its will to reform the law, the prosecution wants to continue with the old habits and this needs to be prevented.  What is called legal reform should not be impunity, restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms or pressures on and detention of rights defenders.

Such a treatment of executives and members of human rights and law associations that solely carry out democratic activities is also against the UN Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

We demand the immediate release of all detainees.

Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Rights Initiative Association, Human Rights Association, Human Rights Agenda Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Citizens Association