Updated: 12/08/2022 - 16:50

Rights defender and filmmaker Fatin Kanat has been a part of the struggle for rights in both fields for many years. After the 1980 coup, he was dismissed from his profession of teaching, arrested, tried, and sentenced to 15 years in prison due to his political views. He took part in the hunger strike that protested the enforcement of uniform clothing in F-type prisons. He endured torture. After his release from prison, he continued his cinema education and became one of the organizers of the International Labour Film Festival. He was elected to the board of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in 2018. He was detained during a police raid on his home on November 27th, 2019. He is facing trial for “creating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Fatin Kanat was born in 1958. He received his graduate degrees from Gazi and Ankara Universities. He has been involved in the revolutionist movement since his youth.

Kanat was detained in the February of 1981, after the military coup in September 12, 1980. He was charged with separatism under Article no 125 of the former Turkish Penal Code, and sentenced. He served his 15 year sentencing at the prisons of Alemdağ, Mamak, Ulucanlar, Bursa E-type, Bursa Special Type, Çanakkale, Eskişehir F-type, and Ermenek. He took part in the demonstrations against the enforcement of uniform clothing that began simultaneously in Metris and Mamak. He joined the 42-day-long hunger strike in Mamak. After these 42 days in which he was also tortured, his weight dropped down to 43 kilograms.

He was held at the Eskişehir F-type Prison -the first example of an F-type prison- for the duration of its operating years. He exposed the torture he endured there and managed to get it reported. After having been transferred to the Bursa Prison, he was prosecuted for allegedly setting his last cell on fire. It was only when he was detained right after his release in 1996 that he found out that this trial had taken place in his absence, and that he had received a 4-month prison sentence without being notified of the ruling that the Supreme Court had approved.

International Labour Film Festival co-organizer Kanat’s graduate degree focused on Iranian cinema and he published a book titled “Women in the Iranian Cinema”. He co-directed the documentary “Halepçe: Sonsuz Umut” (Halabja: Infinite Hope) with Necmettin Salaz in 2011. He later filmed two more documentaries titled “Never Ending Hope: TEK-DER” and “Children are Gentle”.

In 2010, he co-founded Sinetopya with a group of academics, cinema writers, cinema practitioners, and volunteers. Consisting of cinema makers and activists, the group later became a foundation under the name Sinetopya Cinema Volunteers.

Kanat was elected to the board of the Human Rights Association (İHD) at its Ordinary General Assembly held in 2018. He became Co-chair of the Ankara Branch of İHD in 2019. He was detained during a police raid on his home on November 27th, 2019. On November 29th, he was released under the condition of an abroad travel ban.

He was filed a lawsuit at the Ankara 25th High Criminal Court on the charges of “creating propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The indictment dated 2022 presented as evidence the nine press statements held in front of the İHD Ankara Branch Building in 2019 by the “Freedom For Ill Prisoners Initiative” and the press statement held also in front of the İHD Ankara Branch Building in 2018 by the “Justice Initiative for Roboski”. Although a verdict of non-prosecution on “being a member of an armed terrorist organization” was reached in the investigation on Kanat, the prosecutor claimed that the press statements mentioned in the indictment were held under “orders of an illegal organization”.

In his defense statement in the first hearing of the trial held on April 19th, 2022, Fatin Kanat claimed that the charges against him of “creating propaganda for a terrorist organization” were constructed to prosecute the activities of İHD. Kanat went on to say, “I do not know how to make sense of these charges as someone who has taken on such a crucial role as the defence of human rights. We have made a statement to draw attention to the conditions of a critically ill prisoner. Prisons are in a deplorable state.” The international travel ban on him was lifted at the first hearing.

In the second hearing held on September 6th, 2022, the trial committee was altered as one of the member judges from the first hearing was appointed as the Chairman of the Küçükçekmece High Criminal Court. Claiming that they could not properly examine the file, the committee decided to send it over to the prosecution to prepare an opinion. At the third hearing held on October 19th, 2022, the prosecutor gave their final opinion and demanded the sentencing of Kanat on the allegations of his prosecution. Granting an extension of time to Kanat’s lawyers to prepare their defense against the opinion, the court adjourned the next hearing until December 8th, 2022.

At the verdict hearing, after the defenses, the presiding judge asked Fatin Kanat, "Do you accept the postponement of the announcement of the verdict in case of a sentence?" he asked. Kanat and his lawyers stated that they do not accept. Fatin Kanat was acquitted of all charges.