The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has released an urgent call for solidarity with Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp, who is standing trial for “being a member of a terrorist organization.”
Gökalp served as a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) between 2014 and 2018 and is a member of its High Honorary Board. He is also a volunteer of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV/HRFT).
“This is not the first time”
“The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment of Dr. Gökalp and recalls that this is not the first time that TTB members and Dr. Gökalp are being targeted because of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities,” the observatory said.
“These practices are used as a threat to civil society in conditions where the rule of law is eliminated, and the judiciary lacks independence.
“The Observatory urges the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp and all human rights defenders in Turkey.”
Gökalp was detained on October 20, 2020, as part of an investigation into the Democratic Sociaty Congress (DTK) by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. He and four other people were arrested on November 23, 2020.
After spending months behind bars, he was released by the Diyarbakır 10th Heavy Penal Court on February 10.
In the second hearing of his trial on October 25, prosecutors demanded a prison sentence of from 7 to 15 years for Gökalp for “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “being a member of an armed organization.” The prosecutors deemed the DTK and an “illegal entity.”
The next hearing will take place on November 19, when the court is expected to issue its verdict on the case.
“End harassment of rights defenders”
The observatory has requested international organizations to call on Turkey’s authorities to;
• Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Dr. Şeyhmus
• Gökalp and of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
• Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp and
all human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their
activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals;
• Refrain from the practice of abusing anti-terrorism legislation for silencing dissent and crackdown on
human rights activities.