Munzur Environment Culture and Solidarity Association leads a rights-based struggle against crimes committed against nature and biotope by making them more visible to the public eye. The President of the Association Ali Ekber Barmağıç was taken under custody on August 30, 2020. Barmağıç’s lawyers could not receive any information regarding his case under an order of confidentiality while he was detained for 4 days. He was taken to court on July 3, 2020 and arrested. Barmağıç, who was released in his first hearing, is being accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization”.
Ali Ekber Barmağıç was born in Ovacık, Dersim. He is a founding member and the fourth term president of Munzur Environment Culture and Solidarity Association; whose mission is to expose and struggle against ecological destruction and the government policies that cause it. He worked in the leather industry in Kazlıçeşme, Istanbul in 1980s; and later joined the ecological movement in the 90s against the hydro dam project on Munzur River. In 2003, Munzur Environment Culture and Solidarity Association was founded with 19 founding members. The association is a member of Platform Against Nuclear Power, Munzur Festival of Culture and Nature, Dersim Ovacık Village Associations and Union for Ecology (Ekoloji Birliği). Barmağıç is the fourth term president of the association to serve from 2019 to 2021. The association stands in solidarity with the ecological struggles led in Artvin, Fatsa, Sivas Bakırtepe, Aydın and Ida Mountains.
Ali Ekber Barmağıç was taken under custody on June 30, 2020 following a police raid. Barmağıç’s lawyers could not receive any information regarding his case under an order of confidentiality while he was detained for 4 days. He was taken to court on July 3, 2020, arrested and taken to prison.
Munzur Environment Culture and Solidarity Association held a press conference at the Istanbul branch office of the Human Rights Association (İHD) on July 1, 2020. Their statement read: “A number of our members and executives were and continue to be taken under custody; their families were and are being intimidated. At the moment, we do not know the allegations against our president.” Although the statement called for the immediate release of Barmağıç, he was arrested on July 3, 2020 and taken to Tekirdağ Muratlı F-type Prison. His clothes were not allowed inside the prison despite the 20 days he spent in detention. The association launched a signature campaign with the slogan “Environmental struggle is a lawful struggle” on July 25, 2020. Dersim representative of the same association, Özkan Arslan, was taken under custody upon landing to Istanbul on July 24, 2020. Arslan was going to attend a conference on ecology organized by the Ecology Commission of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Arslan was arrested four days later and taken to Metris Prison.
Upon his arrest, 16 organizations led by the Platform to Protect Peri River released a joint statement calling to stand in solidarity with Özkan Arslan who fights for the freedom of Peri River.
Ali Ekber Barmağıç was released in his first hearing on October 13, 2020 at the Tekirdağ 2nd High Criminal Court with a ban on leaving the country. He was accused of “terrorist organization propaganda” with an 300-page indictment. Among the evidence against him, social media posts starting in 2011 and content of some legal publications found in his home were shown.
At the second hearing held on January 14, 2021, it was decided to wait for the responses to be given to the warrants written to the General Directorate of Security and Tekirdağ Police Department and the case was postponed to 9 March 2021.
In the third hearing, the prosecutor was expected to give an opinion, but the case was adjourned once again as the warrants written to the General Directorate of Security and Tekirdağ Provincial Security Directorate for digital materials were not responded. The request to lift the judicial control requirement on Barmağıç was also rejected. At the fourth hearing on May 18, 2021, the judicial control condition was not lifted once again and the case was postponed to September 14, 2021.
At the fifth hearing on September 14, 2021, the prosecutor demanded that Barmağıç be sentenced for “membership in an armed terrorist organization“, be arrested along with the verdict, and that the condition of judicial control will continue until the verdict. The verdict hearing will be held on October 19, 2021.