Dr. Serdar Küni, is a physician and a human rights defender from Cizre who served as a referral physician for the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Cizre Reference Center and as the President of Şırnak Medical Association. He was detained and arrested on October 19, 2016 following an accusation that he had medically treated “organization” members wounded, knowing that they were members to an organization, during the 2016 security forces operations in Cizre. He was tried for “aiding and abetting an organization knowingly and willingly”. The court, on the second hearing on April 24, 2017, sentenced Küni with a 4 year and 2 months prison term but the decision was reversed, and he was released.
A graduate of Dicle University Department of Medicine, Dr. Serdar Küni was born in 1972. He is among the founders of Şırnak Medical Association. He worked at Cizre State Hospital Emergency Department and community health centers, as well as Bişeng Health Center, an initiative of the Municipality of Cizre with a goal to bring accessible, free and equitable health services to public. This center was closed de facto with the curfew imposed, and formally after the government appointed a trustee to the municipality. Küni was active in starting the TİHV Cizre Reference Center in 2015.
He was detained and arrested on October 19, 2016, and transferred to Urfa T-Type Prison on December 24. In two different indictments under his name, he was accused of “medically treating wounded members of the organization during the curfews in Cizre”. Statements of an anonymous witness, codename “Vatan”, and others who claimed to be in Cizre during that period were included in the indictments as the grounds of these accusations.
The first hearing was held on March 13, 2017. Witnesses who testified against Küni, stated that their statements were taken under torture and against their consent. They stated that they did not know who Dr. Küni were and that they would like to withdraw their testimonies.
Anonymous witness “Vatan”, in their testimony, stated that “protesters wounded were treated at the health center where Küni worked”. The only accusation against Küni was concerned with him practicing medicine. On the other hand, the community health center in question was closed on that day.
Küni who testified before the court stated that “I have been practicing medicine in Cizre for 12 years. I have fought to provide free health care of quality to public during these 12 years. I have not taken any sides. I always acted ethical in my practice. I did not discriminate anyone based on ethnicity, gender or political stance. I tried to treat my patients regardless of their participation in social movements. I respected their confidentiality. I have provided medical care to torture and ill-treatment survivors.”
The second hearing was held on April 24, 2017. Observers from Turkey and international human rights organizations were present at the hearing. The court, sentenced Küni with a 4 year and 2 months prison term but the decision was reversed, and he was released.
Following the appeal procedures, Serdar Küni is being tried once again at Şırnak 2nd High Criminal Court.
At the 11th hearing on 19 February 2020, the defendants’ arguments on the merits were heard. Taner Kılıç said that contrary to what was alleged, he did not install ByLock on his phone and that this was confirmed by the report issued by the police. The allegations, which were put forward, denied that BankAsya had deposited money after the leader of the organization’s instructions and that the account movements were against the usual flow of life. “In this case, both us and our institutions were tried to be discredited and criminalized. We did not lose our respect despite the black propaganda against us,” he said.
At the hearing on 19 February 2020, the prosecutor sought punishment, although the witness said that he had given the statement under torture. During the hearing held in Şırnak 2nd High Criminal Court, while Küni and his lawyer Senem Doğanoğlu were present, the witness was brought from Şırnak T Type Closed Prison in R.E. and prepared in the hall. The prosecutor’s office, who submitted his opinion on the merits, asked Serdar Küni to be punished with the alleged “membership of the organization”.
On October 7, 2020, the verdict hearing of the case was expected to be held, but the trial was postponed to 16 November 2020 due to the change of the court panel.