Rosa Women’s Association leads a struggle against all forms of violence against women. Since May 2020 its executives and members have experienced multiple police raids, after which they were taken under custody and arrested. They are now facing trial with the allegation that they are “members of an armed terrorist organization”.
Rosa Women’s Association was founded on December 29, 2018 in Diyarbakir as a civil society organization. It is one of the few NGOs in the region that specifically focuses its activities on women’s rights. Adalet Kaya, who has worked against violence against women and promoted women’s rights under different institutions, founded the association, along with the following founding members: Ayla Akat Ata, Ruken Ergüneş Özdemir, Narin Gezgör, Fatma Gültekin, Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş and Yüksel Baran.
Among the association’s objectives are: Leading a struggle against all forms of violence against women, doing away with all kinds of discrimination against women, developing and implementing projects that promote gender equality, strengthening civil society and women’s associations, protecting nature and natural life, promoting and establishing a culture of democracy and peace. The association has supported approximately 160 women who survived violence since its foundation.
The detention and arrest operations against the Rosa Women’s Association started on May 22, 2020 around 4 am. Rosa Women’s Association members and executives were among the 18 people taken under custody that day, who were later questioned on why they organized an event on March 8 and carried a sign concerning Gülistan Doku’s case.
13 association executives and members were taken under custody on May 22, 2020. 5 women, including Ayla Akat Ata, were released on probation next day and 8 others were arrested. 2 of the arrested were released later. The accusations brought against the association included a statement from an anonymous witness which read: “In order to garner more support for their cause and to expand their membership base, they bring up content concerning women’s rights and cases that attract the attention of the public, such as murders of women and sexual harassment, to portray themselves as a legal organization.”
The second wave of operations against the association took place on June 7, 2020. Association executive Gülistan Nazlıer and member Suzan İşbilen were taken under custody. Since İşbilen suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), she was taken under house arrest. Nazlıer was arrested. Association executive Rojda Barış was taken under custody on June 26, 2020 following a police raid at her house. Barış was arrested on June 29 with the accusation that she is a “member of an armed terrorist group”.
During their interrogations at the police station and the prosecutor’s office, the following allegations were made: Organizing March 8 protests, creating a convoy against sexism and violence in traffic, organizing a workshop titled “peace, as imagined by women”, holding a press conference against the war, protesting and making statements against policies that promote appointment of trustees, receiving an SMS from the association, collaborating with other NGOs in the province, giving statements to journalists, attending funerals and commemorations and posting on social media.
After three waves of operations against it, 8 women affiliated with Rosa Women’s Association are arrested while 8 others were released on probation. There is a warrant against 2 women, whereas one affiliated woman is already released. The names of the arrested human rights defenders are: Adalet Kaya, Narin Gezgör, Fatma Gültekin, Rojda Barış, Gülistan Nazlıer, Gülcihan Şimşek, Remziye Sızıcı, Sevim Coşkun. The alleged accusation brought against them is being a “member of an armed terrorist group”.
Adalet Kaya and Remziye Sızıcı were supposed to appear in court for the first time on July 9, 2020. The court held the hearing ex officio, therefore the hearing was held in absence of the defendants and their representatives, whereby a request was made to combine the cases and postponed the hearing to September. It was also decided that Kaya and Sızıcı remain under custody.
Adalet Kaya was released on August 18, 2020, before the trial date, and Narin Gezgör on September 4, 2020, as a result of the detention examination conducted by the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court. On September 7, 2020, while Gülistan Nazlıer, whose first hearing was seen at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court, was released, Sevim Coşkun’s detention was decided to continue.
The first hearing of the trial of Rojda Barış was held on October 14, 2020. Barış, who was tried in Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court with the allegation of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization” was released on the grounds that the evidence had been collected and there was no suspicion of fleeing. In the second hearing on November 2, 2020, a decision was made and she was acquitted of “terrorist propaganda” and sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization”.
On October 29, 2020, Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office prepared an indictment against journalist Nurcan Yalçın on charges of “being a member of an organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”, demanding a prison sentence of 10 to 15 years. In the indictment, the statements of anonymous witnesses, membership to the Rosa Women’s Association, and social media posts were cited as reasons.
The verdict trial against Narin Gezgör was held on November 11, 2020, and the court sentenced her to 7 years and 6 months in prison.
At the hearing of Gülistan Nazlıer on November 18, 2020, the prosecutor gave his opinion on the merits and cited her membership of the Rosa Women’s Association as evidence with secret witness statements and demanded Nazlıer to be punished for “membership in an armed terrorist organization”.
The verdict hearings of the separate cases against Gülistan Nazlıer and Sevim Coşkun were held at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court on 23 December 2020. Gülistan Nazlıer, who was tried without arrest, was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization”. Sevim Coşkun, who was on remand, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization” and 1 year and 6 months in prison for “resisting the police”. Coşkun was released until his sentence was finalized. Both decisions will be taken for appeal.
The first hearing of Adalet Kaya’s trial, which consists of combined indictments, was held at Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court on March 3, 2021. Kaya was asked about his membership in the Rojova Association, which was closed by the Decree Law. The court postponed the hearing to September 6, 2021 by writing a warrant to the Diyarbakır Governorate’s Desk of Associations, deciding whether Kaya had an official application for the Rojava Association and to lift the judicial control measure.
During a detention operation against women in Diyarbakır on April 5, 2021, 11 months after the first wave of raids, the center of the Rosa Women’s Association was also raided. Its door was broken, the alarm system was dismantled, and a search was made when there was no manager inside.