Trial Calendar

May 2021

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1
2
3
4
5
6
  • Özgür Gündem Dayanışma Davası
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
  • Ali Ekber Barmağıç
19
20
21
  • Osman Kavala/Gezi Davası
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
...

The platform was founded in opposition to the building of a power plant in 2009 at Yaykıl village of Gerze district of Sinop province to defend the natural habitat. The Platform has 24 constituents. In 2015, they won their struggle, and the power plant project was cancelled. The lawsuit against 37 people, among whom are constituents of the Platform, resulted 10 years later. They were sentenced 42 years and 10 months in prison and fined 63 thousand TL for violating “the freedom to work and labor”, “obstructing security forces by resisting them”, “damaging public property”, “arson”, “taking part in an illegal assembly or demonstration with weapons” and violating the “law on assemblies and demonstrations”. 

People of Gerze heard about the plans to build a power plant in Çakıroğlu Neighborhood of Yaykıl Village in 2008. The first objections were raised to the company as it received a production license from the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK). The production license was issued prior to the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) Report; therefore, the village representative Ahmet Tiryaki, Sinop Bar Association and Yaşar Topçu, the former Minister of Transportation, filed a lawsuit against the company for “Suspension of Execution and Cancellation of the Production License”. On July 20, 2009, the 13th Office of the Council of State reached a decision to suspend the execution. It should be noted that the power plant was going to be built on farming and forest land, close not only to wetlands but also to Late Roman- Early Byzantine artefacts. 

Despite the court decision, on January 7, 2009, the company applied for another ÇED with the Ministry of Forests. That led to founding of Yeşil Gerze Çevre Platformu (YEGEP). YEGEP organized informative sessions, seminars and panels and collaborated with universities to draft reports on the possible damage that will be brought to the area by building a power plant there. YEGEP wrote petitions to the ministries, and organized protests. 

On May 3, 2010, they wanted to organize a ÇED information session at Gerze Indoor Sports Facility that would be attended by thousands of people. The session could not take place due to the heavy police intervention with tear gas, and protest of the people against them. 

Defenders of life at Yaykıl village set up a tent there and undertook a watch for three years without a pause. 8,460 people took part in the signature campaign they organized. These signatures were shared with the President, Vice President of the Republic and the Ministry of Environment. Constituents of the platform and others, a total of 40 people, visited Afşin-Elbistan, Sugözü regions where power plants are already located, and interviewed the locals there to share with the people of Gerze. The platform wrote letters to international brands that the company represented in Turkey, the banks company could apply for a loan and explained why the power plant should not be built. 

Company employees who arrived at the site for drilling tried entering the village three times, but the villagers did not let them. On September 5, 2011, the employees arrived accompanied by the gendarmerie forces. Constituents of the Platform and the villagers were taken to court for denying entry to construction equipment and vehicles, on the grounds of violation of  “the freedom to work and Llabor”, “obstructing security forces by resisting them”, “damaging public property”, “arson”, “taking part in an illegal assembly or demonstration with weapons” and violating the “law on assemblies and demonstrations”. 

YEGEP joined forces with Greenpeace in 2011. Greenpeace covered the headquarters building of the company with a banner and left a letter to its executives penned by the people of Gerze. 

The company submitted applications for revised ÇED files in 2012 and 2013. The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning returned the ÇED report on August 2, 2013. The company applied for authorization with a renewed project in June 2014 once again, but the power plant project was formally rejected for the last time on February 23, 2015. 

US-based environmental organization Sierra Club comments that Gerze Resistance is one of the most important achievements of the anti-coal movement

On January 26, 2021, the 32nd court hearing took place at Gerze Court of First Instance, 10 years after the lawsuit was filed against 37 people in 2011. The defendants were sentenced to 42 years and 10 months in prison. 

 

 

 

Turkey learned about LGBTI+ activist Yıldız İdil Şen when she was taken into custody at the protests at Boğaziçi University against the appointed rector Melih Bulu. From January to April 2021, she has been taken into custody three times, and was called to testify once. Until now, there are seven court cases against her on the grounds varying from “violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations” to “obstructing a police officer”, and from “being a member of a terrorist organization” to “damaging public property”. Yıldız İdil Şen is put under house arrest following the Grand Women’s Meeting that took place in Istanbul on March 6, 2021. 

21-year-old Yıldız İdil Şen has been an organized member of the revolutionary left movement since she was in high school and started to identify herself as a rights defender around the same time she became conscious of her gender identity.  There were news pieces on the media about Yıldız İdil Şen claiming she was a student or a graduate of Boğaziçi University, after she was taken into custody at the rallies protesting the appointment of Melih Bulu by the President of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan- an appointment protested since the start of 2021. 

In fact, she is neither a student of Boğaziçi nor a graduate. She was expelled from a Religious Vocational High School due to her political beliefs and gender identity. She is currently trying to get a high school diploma through Open Education. 

Şen’s activism is not limited to LGBTI+ movement. On September 15, 2018, she participated to and was taken in custody among 22 others at Kadıköy rally in solidarity with the Workers of the 3rd Airport who were protesting the bad working conditions. On February 9, 2020, she was taken in custody while protesting the increasing fees to enter the Council of Higher Education Exam (YKS), again in Kadıköy.

At the start of 2021, protests started to take place at Boğaziçi University following the appointment of former AKP MP candidate, Prof. Melih Bulu, as a rector to the university by a presidential decree. On the morning of January 5, 2021, the police raided houses of those attending the protests. Yıldız İdil Şen were among the protesters whose doors were broken by the police forces as they entered the houses. During her statement at the Prosecutor’s Office, she was asked whether she was a member of an organization after going through her social media posts. They were transferred to the 7th Criminal Court of Peace with a request for their arrest with the accusation that they violated “Law 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” and for “resisting an officer”. The court reached a decision to release them upon judiciary control. 

Later on, Yıldız İdil Şen announced that she was subjected to sexual harassment, received rape threats, kept in solitary confinement due to her gender identity, could not access her hormone treatment and that the certain media outlets targeted her. On January 18, 2021, she filed a criminal complaint against the law enforcement forces involved during the process on the grounds that they violated Article 17 of the Constitution and Article 3 of the European Declaration on Human Rights (EDHR) in violation of the prohibitions of “willful injury”, “torture”, “sexual harassment”, “threat”, “immunity of residence”, “defamation”, “damage to property” and “misconduct; and Article 10 of the Constitution and Article 14 of the EDHR within the scope of the prohibitions of hate crime and discrimination. 

On March 6, 2021, a rally was organized by İstanbul March 8 Women’s Platform in Kadıköy. Throughout the day, the police forces did not allow LGBTI+ banners, trans or rainbow flags or umbrellas with the same colors and turned off the microphone after the speeches on the stage were over. They also followed trans women LGBTI+ activists after the rally was over. The police made Yıldız İdil Şen and Havin Özcan, who were speakers at the rally, get off the taxi they took and took them in custody. Others reacting to the police were also taken in custody- totaling 9 people, and were first brought to Kadıköy Pier Police Command, followed by health checks, and then to İstanbul Vatan Security Directorate. It turned out that their COVID-19 tests were not performed, so they were returned to the hospital, then back to Vatan Security Directorate. They were not allowed to speak to their lawyers during this period. The prosecutor transferred the 9 people in custody to the court without even hearing their statements and requested their arrest for “obstructing the police”. At her statement at the court, Yıldız İdil Şen reported that she was subjected to violence and ill-treatment at Pier Police Command and Vatan Security Directorate, along with Haydarpaşa Numune and Bayrampaşa State Hospitals where they had their health checks. Kartal Anadolu 3rd Criminal Court of Peace reached a decision to put Yıldız İdil Şen under house arrest for a month. 

On March 25, 2021, 12 students in total were taken into custody in front of Boğaziçi University, 4 for opening up a LGBTI+ flag and 8 others for reacting against the police action. Boğaziçi Solidarity and BÜLGBTI+ called to stand in solidarity with those in custody who were to present themselves before a prosecutor on March 26. Yıldız İdil Şen was among those who showed up at Çağlayan Court House and she was taken in custody among a large number of people. She was released the next day by the court. 

Yıldız İdil Şen continues to be targeted and is subjected to hate crime by certain media outlets and on social media for her gender identity. On March 24, 2021, she filed a criminal complaint against 4 names, accusing them of “defamation”, “slander”, “violation of privacy”, “provoking the public to hatred, hostility or degrading”, “’illegally obtaining or giving data”.

Dr. Osman Sağlam, President of Mardin Medical Chamber was summoned by the police to give statement regarding his interviews on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on public health and the province for which he is responsible. The accusation brought against him is “causing fear and panic among the public”. 

Osman Sağlam is the Co-chair of Mardin Medical Chamber, an internal medicine specialist, and an emergency physician. On March 28, 2020, he was summoned to give his statement at Mardin Provincial Police Department regarding the interviews he gave to Mezopotamya Ajansı and Gazete Duvar. Osman Sağlam criticized the inadequate level of precautions taken to manage the epidemic and the reluctance of Mardin Provincial Directorate of Health to share information regarding the epidemic. It was later revealed that the Provincial Directorate of Health had filed the complaint against him.

Osman Sağlam has been active in Mardin Medical Chamber since 2016. He is also a member of the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES) Mardin Office. He was taken under custody on October 8, 2014, while trying to help those arrested during a Kobane support march. He was later released. On February 6, 2015, he was attacked by relatives of a patient at the primary care center in Ortaköy neighborhood of Artuklu district in the province of Mardin. He was among the group that publicly announced the inefficacy of the “Law on Violence Against Health [Professionals]” on November 2, 2018. Osman Sağlam represented Mardin Medical Chamber in a joint press statement issued on the “Law on Violence Against Health Professionals” by Mardin Medical Chamber, Mardin Dental Chamber and KESK Mardin Offices Platform.

On March 18, 2020, Sağlam issued his personal statement titled “Hekimler virüs teşhisi koymaya çekiniyor”(Physicians are reluctant to diagnose a case with the virus”), where he said “A physician who diagnosed a case with coronavirus was forced to take a leave of absence. The physicians are reluctant to diagnose [these cases]”. Sağlam also spoke to Gazete Duvar on March 25, 2020. In this article, he informed that 50 people were under quarantine in Mardin. He underlined “We don’t need the applause but the protective gear. We requested a meeting with the Director of Provincial Health Department. We called him on his personal phone for two days, sent him messages but to no avail. As a consequence, we have not been able to share information or take joint action.” Sağlam was summoned to Mardin Police Department to give a statement on March 28, 2020.

On March 30, 2020, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council requested, in writing, that Medical Chamber representatives would be included in the Covid-19 Pandemic Provincial Coordination Committees and Provincial Public Health Councils.

TTB is one of the largest civil society organizations and the only health association with experience in crisis response in Turkey. TTB is deliberately left out of the crisis response mechanism by the government, further exposing government’s interest in collaborating only with the pro-government organizations and serving the similar section of the public, and interpreted as an attempt by the government to silence those critical of government’s management of the crisis.

President of Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber and a member of the Psychiatric Association of Turkey (Türkiye Psikiyatri Derneği), psychiatrist Özgür Deniz Değer was summoned to give his statement regarding the interview he gave to Mezopotamya Ajansı on March 19, 2020 published under the title ‘Tek bir virüs vakası tüm cezaevini hasta eder’ (A single case can infect everyone in the prison). Değer was evaluating the precarious conditions of prisoners against the corona virus in this interview. Değer gave his statement at Van Police Department against the accusation for “causing fear and panic among the public”.

Özgür Deniz Değer was born in 1979 in Van. He graduated from Mersin University School of Medicine and worked as a general practitioner at Van Muradiye State Hospital. He competed his specialization at Bakırköy Ruh Sağlığı ve Sinir Hastalıkları Hastanesi. While he was working in Istanbul, he acted as the vice president of Istanbul Branch of the Psychiatric Association of Turkey. Following his service at Sivas Şarkışla State Hospital, he returned to Van in 2014 and continued to work there.

He was a member of the committee that drafted the research and evaluation report on Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, Van, Bitlis and Tatvan districts, jointly published in 2015 by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and the Psychiatric Association of Turkey (TPD).

Değer’s public statements to this day has a focus on health and rights. He reminded the public that the rising number of suicides in Turkey is of a political and social concern as a product of the economy and politics of the country. He stated that the health facilities in Van are not prepared to respond to the corona virus. He reminded the public about the health conditions of the prisoners on hunger strike.

One of these interviews was published on March 19, 2020 on Mezopotamya Ajansı website. He was summoned to give his statement at Van Police Department regarding his statements on the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic, the level of preparedness and the great risk the prisoners were under due to this epidemic.  He was accused of “causing fear and panic among the public”. He was not detained after his statement. Değer revealed that his statements during the aforementioned interviews were questioned at the police station and as the President of a Medical Chamber and a physician, he acted under his duty to inform the public.

Özgür Deniz Değer left his post after the ordinary general meeting held in July 2020. Deniz, who served as the delegate of the supreme board of the chamber in the new period, was detained by the gendarmerie on October 26, 2020, and was released after his statement was taken. He was asked about the social media posts of two civilians allegedly thrown from helicopter in Van. 

On March 30, 2020, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council requested, in writing, that Medical Chamber representatives would be included in the Covid-19 Pandemic Provincial Coordination Committees and Provincial Public Health Councils.

TTB is one of the largest civil society organizations and the only health association with experience in crisis response in Turkey. TTB is deliberately left out of the crisis response mechanism by the government, further exposing government’s interest in collaborating only with the pro-government organizations and serving the similar section of the public, and interpreted as an attempt by the government to silence those critical of government’s management of the crisis.

The Gezi Park trial with 16 defendants, now referred to as a ‘joinder of action’, consists of several stages, verdicts of acquittal and retrial, merged case files. At first, 26 defendants who faced trial for “establishing and running a criminal organization” were acquitted. A new indictment was prepared after 3 years and human rights defenders were accused of acting in a hierarchical setting in partnership with Osman Kavala, who was alleged to organize and finance the Gezi protests. This trial also resulted in acquittal of all defendants only to be annulled later. A new case was opened against Osman Kavala with the charges of “attempting to subvert the Constitutional order” and “political and military espionage” and the court was asked to merge the case with the Gezi trial.

Gezi Park protests that led to the Gezi trial, started when the trees were cut down in the scope of Taksim Pedestrianization Project with the decision of reconstructing the Taksim Artillery Barracks in Taksim Gezi Park without a building permit, on May 28, 2013. The protests rapidly sprawled across Turkey and lasted for weeks. According to the data of the Ministry of the Interior 3.6 million people joined the demonstrations that took place in 80 cities, 5 thousand 513 people were detained, 189 of them were arrested. According to the data of Turkish Medical Association 7 thousand 478 people were injured during the protests. 8 civilians and 2 security guards died.

26 people were detained including Mücella Yapıcı, the secretary of Environmental Impact Review Advisory Panel of Chamber of Architects Istanbul Büyükkent Division, and Ali Çerkezoğlu, the secretary general of Istanbul Chamber of Medicine. They were released after their statements were taken but were faced with a lawsuit for “establishing and running a criminal organization” in March 2014. Istanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance dismissed all accused on April 29, 2015.

Businessperson Osman Kavala was arrested after two weeks of detention on November 1, 2017. One of the accusations directed against him was “leading the Gezi protests”. The allegations of “attempting to disrupt the Constitutional order” and “attempting to overthrow the government” that led to Osman Kavala’s arrest were not used to file an indictment  for over a year. The process leading to the indictment of the second “Gezi Trial” began when 13 human rights defenders and academics were detained by police conducting raids on their homes on November 16, 2018.

According to the memo Istanbul Police Department shared with the press, 20 people in Istanbul, Adana, Antalya and Muğla were detained for acting in a hierarchical setting in partnership with businessperson Osman Kavala who was alleged to “organize and finance the Gezi protests” and was detained without being indicted in Silivri Prison for over a year.

While 12 of the detainees were released under supervision with a foreign travel ban on November 17-18, 2018, Yiğit Aksakoğlu was arrested with the suspicion of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey and to partially or completely obstruct  governmental operations” by the Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace.

On February 19, 2019, by the time the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that in the scope of the investigation regarding the Gezi Park protests the indictment was completed and presented to the Istanbul 30th Assize Court, Osman Kavala had already spent a year and 4 months and Yigit Aksakoğlu had spent 3 months in jail.

The investigation including the evidence collected by the prosecutor Muammer Aktaş, who is wanted by the police for being a member of FETO/PDY, was completed in 2019. Istanbul 30th Assize Court accepted the indictment on March 4, 2019. In this indictment comprising 657 pages, businessperson Osman Kavala who has been under custody since November 1, 2017 and 16* people including 4 detainees, one of whom had been arrested (Çiğdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altınay, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi), were accused of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey and to partially or completely obstruct governmental operations” and the court was asked to sentence them to aggravated life imprisonment.

The names of Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was the prime minister during Gezi protests and 27 members of the cabinet as well as 746 others were listed on the “Sufferer Plaintiffs” section of the indictment.

The first hearing of the case was held at Istanbul 30th Assize Court on June 24-25, 2019. After nine people presented their defenses in the hearing, the judges ruled in Yiğit Aksakoğlu’s release under supervision while they ruled in the continuation of Osman Kavala’s detention.

The third hearing was conducted on October 8, 2019 with the newly assigned judges. The hearing in which the interrogations of defendants were carried out, didn’t result in Osman Kavala’s release. 

On December 10, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided that the European Convention of Human Rights was violated due to Osman Kavala’s arrest for political reasons without reasonable suspicion and the Constitutional Court’s failure to review the application in a reasonable time.

At the hearing on December 24, 2019, Osman Kavala wasn’t released despite the ECtHR ruling. The following hearing was held on January 28, 2020. Once again, the court didn’t rule in Osman Kavala’s release.

The prosecutor stated his opinion on the merits on February 6, 2020 and requested;

  • The prosecution of Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, Memet Ali Alabora and İnanç Ekmekçi, to be separated from the case and the delay of the execution of the arrest warrant against them.
  • Osman Kavala, Yigit Aksakoğlu and Mücella Yapıcı to be sentenced for “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey and to partially or completely obstruct governmental operations forcefully and violently”, in reference to Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code.
  • Çiğdem Mater, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ekmekçi to be sentenced for “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey and to partially or completely obstruct governmental operations forcefully and violently”, in reference to Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code, as helpers in accordance with Article 39 of the Turkish Criminal Code.

At the sixth hearing of the case held on February 18, 2020, Osman Kavala and 8 other defendants were acquitted.

However, before Kavala was released, he got arrested again due to another investigation. The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office sent Kavala, who was detained again on the same day in Silivri, into court for arrest. On February 19, 2020, The Court of Peace on duty ordered Kavala’s arrest for “forcefully and violently attempting to disrupt the Constitutional order of the Republic of Turkey” in the scope of 15 July investigation due to “the gravity of the crime and the risk of absconding since he was acquitted of the charges he faced in Gezi trial”.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office requested Kavala’s imprisonment for 20 years for “espionage” (Article 328) and aggravated life imprisonment for “subverting the Constitutional order” (Article 309). 

On January 22, 2021, 3rd Criminal Law Chamber of Istanbul Regional Court of Justice revoked the verdict of acquittal reached in Gezi trial. The Chamber ordered the case file to be sent to the Court of First Instance for reexamination and judgement. Supplying the missing evidence, it was decided to proceed with the case. The 36th Assize Court trying Kavala decided for the joinder of the case regarding the crimes of  “attempting to subvert the Constitutional order” and “political and military espionage” with the Gezi trial at the hearing that took place on February 5, 2021.

Another merger decision came on April 28, 2021. The case of Can Dündar, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Tüylüoğlu, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi, who were tried in the Gezi trial on the allegation of ‘attempting to overthrow the government’ and whose files were separated ‘because they were abroad’ merged with the main Gezi Trial by the decision of Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court.

  • The list of “Suspects” in the indictment received on March 4, 2019: M. Osman Kavala, A. Mücella Yapıcı, A. Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, H. Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Ş. Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi. 

 

Migration Monitoring Association (Göç-İz), founded in Istanbul in 2016, aims to strengthen solidarity among groups forced to migrate and to advocate for their demands for a better life. Documentation, witnessing and reporting within the domain of forced migration are their main activities that contribute to memorialization. Until now, Göç-İz has faced two trials related to the activities they have conducted. The executives of the association were fined for violating the Law on Associations. The association is undergoing an investigation regarding the “public degradation of the military or security forces of the state” allegation. 

 Göç-İz started their activities around forced migration as a form of human rights violation five years ago. The association aims to support survivors of human rights violations and abuses in their quest for justice, to strengthen collective memory around these violations and abuses in service of peace and democracy. It strives towards recognition and reparations of grave violations of human rights. 

Forced migration in the context of Turkey mostly refers to the population movements enforced by public officers in the Kurdish provinces between the years 1989-1999. Göç-İz not only searches for ways to ameliorate the lives of Kurdish citizens who had been subjected to expropriation and deskilling for the past ten years (including searching for ways for voluntary return, demining of villages and other areas etc.) but also makes recommendations for reckoning with the past and document migration movements currently taking place.  

One of the most recent activities of Göç-İz was the drafting of Edirne Refugees Observation Report which compiled data from onsite monitoring of incidents that took place in March 2020 following the opening of borders. Göç-İz published another report on June 25, 2019 from the data collected and observations made during curfews declared in 2015-2016. The report focuses on the human rights violations experienced by women during this period and builds on 480 interviews conducted with women living in the provinces and districts of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Hakkari and Şırnak, along with others living in İstanbul, Mersin and Van. The Internal Migration Report published the same year reflected on migration tendencies by surveying bus passengers leaving from 8 provinces that have the highest rate of migration to other cities. 

Çobandüzü (Hespenek) village in Erciş distrcit of Van was raided by the gendarmerie in November 2018 and resulted in burning down a house in the village. The family whose house was burnt down had to leave the village. Göç-İz published their analysis-evaluation of the incidents following the operation. Also in 2019, they published the Guide on Right to Legal Remedies for the Forcibly Displaced in Turkey”.

Following an audit and report drafted the by the Ministry of the Interior on March 4, 2020 Göç-İz was found to have two unregistered activities and some official documents missing from their records. This led to the Directorate of Provincial Associations to request an investigation on June 4, 2020. This request not only mentions the missing documents but also includes quotations from the guide for survivors of forced migration and the report focusing on curfews and women’s experiences. It claims that the association intends to “create a perception that the legitimate institutions of the state force its own citizens to migrate, that the separatist terrorist organization has legitimacy in pursuit of their activities, and publicly degrade the institutions of the state”.

On September 17, 2020, an investigation was launched by Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Bakırköy addressing the claims that the association was “Violating of the Law on Associations” and “Publicly Degrading the Military or Security Organizations of the State”. On November 27, 2020,  38th Criminal Court of First Instance of Bakırköy decided to fine the executives of the association 15 thousand TL each for violating the Law on Associations. The investigation regarding the “public degradation of the military or security forces of the state” allegation is ongoing. 

Trade unionist Başaran Aksu has been active in the labor movement and in the field all his life. He has taken part in trade union organizing within various industries and in foundation of independent trade unions. Aksu has been taken into custody numerous times for giving speeches and attending labor protests. Tens of investigations were launched against him. In 2014, he survived a planned lynch attack by a 400 people mob while he was working to organize laborers under the Progressive Mineral Research and Treatment Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Dev Maden-Sen) in Soma. He was hospitalized for 3 months. There are 2 trials and an investigation in progress against Aksu.  

Başaran Aksu was born in Hopa in 1974. He has been in the trade union movement for 30 years. He does not have another occupation or a job. He has not been insured for a day in his life. He steers away from money related assignments on principle, so he has never been a professional trade unionist. He is not a member of a confederation. He determines his approach according to the requirements and realities of the sector he is in. He has spent most of his life in industrial zones, working for the labor movement and organizing. He provides for his food and shelter needs from within the organization and stays at houses of workers.

In 2008, Aksu took part in the foundation of a collective aiming at strengthening the trade unionist movement of the working class called Umut-Sen. He is currently the organizing coordinator of the collective. He founded Trade Union of the Security Personnel (Güvenlik-Sen), organized under the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), and acted as a volunteer organization expert for the foundation of the Warehouse, Port, Shipyard and Maritime Laborers Trade Union (DGD-Sen). He assisted trade unions organized under DİSK and Türk-İş to organize laborers in rubber, leather, textile, metal, shipping, chemistry industries. Following the Soma Mining Disaster, he founded the Independent Miners Union (Bağımsız Maden-İş) with Kamil Kartal. He is currently working towards establishing a trade union for migrant laborers. 

At the time of the Soma Mining Disaster in 2014, Aksu was organizing laborers in security sector in Samsun. He went to Soma as soon as he heard the news and has been there ever since. A mob tried to lynch Aksu and Kamil Kartal, who founded the Independent Miners Union together, in Soma. Prior to his activities in Soma, Aksu was supporting a resistance at plastic factory in Çerkezköy (Tekirdağ). 

Before founding the Independent Miners Union, Başaran Aksu and Kamil Kartal were conducting door to door visits in Soma to encourage laborers to form their own committees, alongside another organizing stint for the Progressive Mineral Research and Treatment Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Dev Maden-Sen). On September 2, 2014, as they were offering their condolences to the family of a laborer who fell victim to an occupational murder, they survived a planned attack of a mob of 400 people. It was claimed that the mob was provoked by the trade unions already organized at the mines and by the employers. Aksu survived the attack with fractures on his waist, cheekbone, and nose and was hospitalized for 3 months. He returned to Soma as soon as he was discharged. He was tried as complainant- accused, alongside the perpetrators of the attack. He was acquitted of all charges. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict for the perpetrators. The next day, 7 thousand people attended the funeral of the deceased laborer.

Again, in Soma, he made a series of speeches on February 16, 2019, as part of protests organized by the miners who are victims of compensation. A complaint was filed against Aksu, accusing him of “provoking [others] to commit crime” in these speeches. The first court hearing was held in Soma 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on December 22, 2020. The second hearing will be held on April 15, 2021

Aksu is being criminalized by the mining companies around Soma region. Following a complaint filed by İmbat Mining, an investigation is launched against him. Company executives are claiming that Aksu has threatened to kill them. 

Aksu has been taken into custody numerous times for giving speeches and attending labor protests. Tens of investigations were launched against him which resulted in nonsuit. He has never received a sentence from those cases that turned into a trial. The last time he was taken into custody was in Gebze (district of Kocaeli). Başaran Aksu was there to show solidarity with the metal workers who wanted to march to Ankara, demanding their trade union rights. Aksu was taken into custody, along with Kamil Kartal. They were both released on the same day. 

 

 

Human rights defender Özlem Dalkıran is an author and a interpreter. She is among the founding members of Amnesty International Turkey Office. She has been involved in numerous campaigns and projects of the Citizen’s Assembly (formerly knowns as the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly) and served different offices since its foundation.  Dalkıran was taken into custody and arrested along with 9 others during a workshop organized in Büyükada (Istanbul) in 2017 where she was representing the Citizens’ Assembly. Her arrest and the 3-year long trial process changed her life. What is now referred to as the Büyükada Trial attracted a lot attention in the country and abroad, and numerous campaigns were organized around it. The final hearing of the trial took place on July 3, 2020 where Özlem Dalkıran was sentenced to one year and 13 months in prison for “assisting a terrorist organization without holding a membership”. The court rejected the appeal. Dalkıran lives and continues to advocate for rights abroad. 

Interpreter and author, Özlem Dalkıran has been an active member of civil society and a human rights defender for the last 30 years. She is among the founding members of Amnesty International Turkey Office. She served two terms as the chair of the executive board and the press agent of the Amnesty International. She was a member of the Advisory Board to Open Society Foundations Turkey Office.  She led a program on “Cinema and Human Rights”. She served as the coordinator of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Refugee Support Program. She served as a member of Hrant Dink Foundation Award Committee for many years. She also worked for “Monitoring Hate Speech in Media” project of the same foundation. Her articles were published on bianet. 

The constituents of the Human Rights Joint Platform decided to hold an informative workshop from July 2-7 in Büyükada. Özlem Dalkıran was at Büyükada in July 2017, accompanied by human rights defenders affiliated with different organizations. The theme of the workshop was “protection of data and means of coping with stress”. The objective was to gain knowledge around protection of archives, digitizing and storing documents, protecting communication and websites from cyberattacks, and coping with stress. Since addressing stress was among the objectives of the workshop, the location of Büyükada was deemed fitting.

The police forces received orders from Adalar Prosecutor’s Office and raided the workshop on July 5, 2017.  They took 10 rights defenders into custody and Özlem Dalkıran was among them. They were not allowed to contact their families or lawyers for hours. The legal detention period was extended from seven days to fourteen days, and they were brought before a prosecutor on July 17, 2017. The prosecution requested that they were detained for the following accusations: “committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without holding a membership” and “being member of an armed terrorist organization”. 

On July 18, 2017, Özlem Dalkıran, along with İdil Eser (Amnesty International – Turkey Office Director), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association), Ali Garawi (Citizen of Sweden- human rights trainer) and Peter Steudtner (Citizen of Germany– human rights trainer) were detained. And the  Büyükada Trial started.  

The indictment was drafted after 3 months, on October 4, 2017, and the number of rights defenders prosecuted increased to 11.  The first hearing was held at the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court on October 25, 2017. The press conference held right before the hearing focused on how the civil society was being criminalized: “The workshop on digital security and dealing with trauma, a commonplace workshop conducted globally, was organized in full transparency and intended to contribute to wellbeing of rights defenders and increase their knowledge in these areas. The aim of this trial against the participants of the workshop and the workshop itself is to criminalize them.”

In her defense statement at the first hearing, Özlem Dalkıran stated that she could not understand the reasoning of the indictment that resulted in depriving her of freedom for three months and the fact that a workshop, which aimed at increasing the knowledge of rights defenders, could be interpreted as “assisting a terrorist organization”. She rejected the accusations against her and reminded that her work in the past 30 years has always focused on rights, justice and peace. 

Dalkıran was released after spending 113 days behind bars following the first hearing. The prosecutor expressed their opinion on November 27, 2019 and requested that Dalkıran is sentenced on the grounds that she “assisted a terrorist organization without holding a membership”. 

The final hearing took place on July 3, 2020 at the 35th High Criminal Court. Özlem Dalkıran was sentenced to 1 year and 13 months in prison for “assisting a terrorist organization”. 

The 3rd Criminal Division of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the appeal on 26 November 2020, provided that the case can be seen at the Court of Cassation. 

The application made to the Constitutional Court (AYM) regarding Dalkıran’s detention was concluded on 23 March 2021. The court unanimously decided that the right to freedom and security of the person guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution was violated, and ruled that Dalkıran was paid 40 thousand lira in non-pecuniary damages. In the Constitutional Court decision, it was stated that there was no evidence that the meeting in Büyükada was confidential, and that even if the meeting was confidential, it would not constitute a crime on its own.

Özlem Dalkıran currently lives and continues her activism abroad away from her family and friends. 

 

Turkish Medical Association (TTB) represents 88 percent of the medical physicians in Turkey. Since 2018, TTB members and executives are subjected to investigations, prosecuted, and turned into targets. 11 former executives of the TTB received prison sentences for “publicly provoking hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section” due to their declaration entitled “War is a Matter of Public Health” concerning the Operation Olive Branch launched by the Turkish Armed Forces. TTB executives in different provinces are also being prosecuted for the statements they made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Şebnem Korur Fincancı was elected president of the Central Council in September 2020 and was targeted publicly by the President of the Republic. Honorary Board Member Şeyhmus Gökalp is facing up to 15 years in prison for his alleged ‘membership to a terrorist organization’. 

TTB was founded in 1953 with the following objectives: protecting and improving public health, working towards accessible and affordable quality health care, upholding professional ethics, and protecting the rights of medical professionals and its members. The Central Council, whose areas of focus include maintaining professional discipline, investigating relatives of patients, and determining fees for private practice, is located in Ankara. 

TTB has also faced pressure in the past. It was closed with the military coup of 1980, all its documents were confiscated, members of the board of directors were put on trial. When it reopened in 1984, Head of the Central Council was Prof. Dr. Nusret Fişek. The death penalty was on the agenda. TTB Central Council sent letters addressing the deputies and the President to remind that keeping people alive is the most basic ethical rule of the medical profession, and it is not right to have a physician during the execution of the death penalty. A lawsuit was filed against Fişek and members of the Central Council. They were tried with the crime of preparing a statement against the death penalty. Fişek and his colleagues were acquitted.

In 2004 Recep Akdağ, the Minister of Health of the time filed a lawsuit against Central Council President Füsun Sayek and Second President Dr. Metin Bakkalcı for allegedly insulting him. Both were acquitted.

The current wave of oppression towards TTB commenced on January 20, 2018 with “Operation Olive Branch” launched by the Turkish Armed Forces against the alleged threats to national security. As protest marches against the operation were banned, and those sharing opposing views on social media were taken into custody, TTB Central Council, made a declaration entitled “War is a Matter of Public Health” public on January 24, 2018. An investigation was rapidly launched against the members of the Council. The declaration ends with the following sentence: “No to war; peace now and everywhere! ” TTB felt the need to make a second statement underlining their “refusal of any sort of manipulation” of their initial statement as it was repeatedly brought to public attention and commented on by state officials.

On January 28, 2018, the Ministry of Interior announced that they will file a criminal complaint at Public Prosecutor’s Office the against the members of TTB Central Council members. The next day, the Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against the 11 members of the TTB Central Council. 

On January 30, 2018, these 11 physicians, also members of the Central Council, were taken into custody following operations conducted in 7 cities: Prof. Dr. Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Prof. Dr. Taner Gören (İstanbul), Dr. Hande Arpat, Prof. Dr. Sinan Adıyaman, Dr. Mehmet Sezai Berber, Dr. Selma Güngör (Ankara), Dr. Bülent Nazım Yılmaz (Eskişehir), Dr. Funda Barlık Obuz (İzmir), Dr. Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş (Adana), Dr. Ayfer Horasan (Van), Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp (Diyarbakır).

Prosecution announced that these operations were conducted within the framework of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713 and brought a confidentiality order on the case. 

Rectorate of the Istanbul University decided to suspend Prof. Dr. Raşit Tükel and Prof. Dr. Taner Gören for three months. Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp was also removed from his office at the Central Bank of Diyarbakır (Diyarbakır Merkez Bankası).

The same day, executive members of the World Medical Association (WMA), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), The Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), European Forum of Medical Associations (EFMA) and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) presented a letter to the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for the immediate release of the physicians. The letter was also shared primarily with the Office of the Vice President, and the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs along with other institutions. 

Protests were organized and public statements were made by various professional associations and attorneys-at-law in solidarity with the physicians. Attorneys at law, who meet on a weekly basis for the “Justice Watch at the Çağlayan Court of Justice, read the TTB statement during their 44th meeting in solidarity with the detained physicians. Attorney-at-law Kemal Aytaç, who read the statement at this meeting, was taken into custody following the police raid at his house for the alleged detention warrant against him. On February 5, Kemal Aytaç was present before the court with his lawyers and released after he presented his statement. It was later discovered that the investigation about the rereading the TTB statement was extended and 14 others were under investigation for the same reason. 

The Criminal Court of Peace reached a decision to release the physicians with judicial control. Prof. Dr. Sinan Adıyaman, Dr. Ayfer Horasan and Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp were released on February 2, 2018, whereas the remaining 8 members were released on February 5, 2018.

The decision of the Rectorate of the Istanbul University to suspend Raşit Tükel and Taner Gören for three months was overturned on February 9, 2018, following their detention. 

In the indictment dated October 1, 2018, the 11 physicians were accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda” (TMK 7/2) and “publicly provoking hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section” (TCK 216/1). The first court hearing took place on December 27, 2018 at Ankara 32nd High Criminal Court. Physicians gave their statements and the prosecutor presented their opinion as to the accusations. 

The third court hearing took place on May 3, 2019 where the 11 physicians and former members of the Central Council were sentenced to 10 months in prison twice for the crime of “publicly provoking hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section”. Dr. Hande Arpat was sentenced to a year, 6 months and 22 days in prison for her social media posts which were interpreted as ‘spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization’. Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp acquitted from the same accusation. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic

Although the Covid-19 pandemic commenced in December 2019 and the first case in Turkey was reported on March 11, 2020, presidents of the chambers of medical doctors in different provinces of Turkey were called to police stations to give their statements and investigations were launched against them for the information they have shared with the public regarding the spread of the virus and public health. Presidents of Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber and Urfa Medical Chamber were accused for “causing fear and panic among the public”. Following the request of the Governorate of Bursa, an investigation was launched against the TTB Covid-19 Monitoring Group member Prof. Dr. Kayıhan Pala at Uludağ University. Pala was accused of ‘misinforming the public’. At a later stage, the investigation was terminated. 

When Şebnem Korur Fidancı was elected 2020-2022 President of the Central Council of TTB at the Grand Election Congress on September 27, 2020, she found herself targeted by the government. During the AKP group meeting on October 14, 2020, Party Chair and President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted Fincancı and TTB with the following statement: “Since when those intermingled with the terrorists are chosen to lead institutions of great importance, such as TTB? Activities of such professional associations like TTB are in conflict with the constitution. We will follow a similar path for those associations as we did to establish multiple bar associations.” 

On November 20, 2020, TTB Honorary Board Member Şeyhmus Gökalp was taken into custody as part of the investigation against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). TTB released a statement calling for his release. The prosecutor transferred Gökalp to Diyarbakır 2nd Criminal Court of Peace requesting his arrestation. Gökalp was arrested on November 23, 2020 for the allegation that he was a ‘member of a terrorist organization’. Şeyhmus Gökalp is facing a sentence between 7 years and 6 months to 15 years in prison, and the first court hearing regarding his case will take place on February 10, 2021.

On January 22, 2021, a protest was held in Ankara City Hospital with the demand of improving the personal rights of healthcare workers. Ankara Medical Chamber (ATO) President Dr. Ali Karakoç and board members also attended. After the harsh intervention of the police, along with Karakoç, ATO Board Member Dr. Ayşe Uğurlu was taken into custody.

 

Independent Mineworkers Union (Bağımsız Maden-İş Sendikası) Expert Union Organizer Kamil Kartal has served for the trade union movement all his life. He was sued and taken into custody a number of times. The decision taken by the Akhisar Criminal Court of First Instance to sentence Kartal to 33 months in prison is currently pending at the Court of Cassation.  

Kamil Kartal is a worker and a member of the trade union movement born in 1956 in Istanbul – but he identifies as from Şavşat (Artvin). His father is an old-time tram driver for IETT (Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Enterprises) and one of the founding members of TUMTIS (All Transport Workers’ Union). Kartal dropped out of high school and started working at the age of 16. He mainly worked in the energy industry, in addition to IETT, metal, mining, and press. He has been active in the trade union movement since he was 18 years old and served as a representative of different confederations and workplaces at the union, alongside serving as an executive and an expert on union organizing.

He led most of his union activities under DISK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions) until it was shut down with the coup d’etat on September 12, 1980. He was a member of Türk-İş (Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions) until 1992 when he started to work towards remobilizing DISK. He was in charge of organizing Yeraltı-Maden İş (Underground Mining Workers Union). While he was working at the printing department of Cumhuriyet Daily, he served as the secretary general and president of Basın-İş (Media and Printing Workers Union). He undertook organizing efforts for Devrimci Sağlık-İş (Revolutionary Health Workers Union). He supported the establishment of Bağımsız Enerji-Sen (Independent Energy Workers Union). He served as the president of Enerji İşçileri Sendikası (Energy Workers Union), organized under DISK, from 2010 to 2013. 

Kamil Kartal has been in Soma since May 13, 2014 – the day Soma Mine Disaster took place. He has been following up on lawsuits with the families of mineworkers who have lost their lives and continues to take part in the struggle for workers’ rights. He took on an active role in founding the Independent Mineworkers Union (Bağımsız Maden-İş Sendikası) in 2018. He is currently serving as an expert on organizing and training in the same union. 

Kartal had been taken into custody countless times for his union activities, and a number of lawsuits were brought against him. All these lawsuits are from 1980 onwards. He was tried along 700 other defendants under the IETT Devrimci Yol case following the September 12 coup. From 1980 to 1983, he had been detained up to more than 80 days. During an Enerji-Sen (Electricity, Gas, Water and Hydrodam Workers Union) protest in 2011, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for shutting down the traffic on Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. The sentences he received for occupying Adana TEDAS (Turkish Electricity Distribution Corporation) and Taksim BEDAS (Boğaziçi Electricity Distribution Corporation) buildings were suspended. 

Akhisar Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced Kartal to 33 months in prison for degrading Akhisar Chief of Police. The decision is currently reviewed at the Court of Cassation. The case of murdered mineworkers in Soma brought union representatives, including Kartal, and police forces to the court. Kartal acquitted from another lawsuit launched about the same incident accusing him of “provoking the public to hatred and hostility”. 

Public learned about Kamil Kartal when a group of mineworkers from Soma, who had been laid off without compensation and unpaid receivables, started marching to Ankara. When the mineworkers march was blocked by the gendarmerie, Kartal stood up against them, saying “Is that so regiment commander?” Following this incident, Kamil Kartal went on to support the metal workers who wanted to march from Gebze (Kocaeli) to Ankara demanding their union rights be recognized. Kartal was taken into custody, along with Başaran Aksu, an expert union organizer for the Independent Mineworkers Union. They were both released the same day. 

 

eshid/eşit haklar logo hafıza merkezi logo Netherlands Helsinki Committe logo
© 2019