President of the Balıkesir Office of Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Rafet Fahri Semizoğlu was taken under custody by the gendarmerie following the raid of his house at dawn. Semizoğlu was released after five days under judicial control. There is an ongoing investigation against him. During his statement, he was asked about the prison visits he has conducted a year and a half ago. He is now being accused of “providing financial support to a terrorist organization”.
Rafet Fahri Semizoğlu was born in Ankara in 1962. He has been living in Burhaniye, Balıkesir for the past 28 years. Three years ago, he became a member of Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Balıkesir Office and was elected as president during his first general assembly. He has worked towards increasing İHD’s visibility and activities in Balıkesir since the day he was elected. He has conducted projects concerning refugees, prisons, and ecology which are relevant to Balıkesir. Semizoğlu conducted prison visits during the 2019 hunger strikes and reported on these visits and violations of human rights to İHD Headquarters.
On Saturday October 31, 2020, around 5 am, Semizoğlu’s house was raided by a crowd composed of the gendarmerie and police forces, along with the local authorities. He was taken under custody with the allegation that he was a “member of a terrorist organization” and taken to Burhaniye Gendarmerie Station. He was taken to the hospital for his medical examination approximately 24 hours after that. His statement was taken at the Gendarmerie Station Command located at the Çağış campus of Balıkesir University.
İHD Headquarters made a press statement while Semizoğlu was under custody. The statement underlined that according to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) the defendant should be called in to give a statement during the investigation and that the authorities were not following this procedure, therefore going against CMK, therefore Semizoğlu, the president of İHD Balıkesir Branch, should be immediately released.
Semizoğlu was asked approximately 20 questions on the content of the conversations during prison visits; whether certain publications entered prisons illegally, or he knew certain individuals or had relatives who are members of PKK. He was brought before a judge after five days of being held under arrest. As reported by him, those taken under custody during the same operation were put in different vehicles and driven around the city in a convoy. At the court, the prosecutor demanded that Semizoğlu would be arrested for “providing financial support to a terrorist organization” rather than “being a member of a terrorist organization”. Semizoğlu was released under judicial control.