The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği - İHD) about the acts of stigmatisation and death threats against Ms Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Ms Eren Keskin. Ms Tosun is a lawyer and member of İHD. She is the daughter of Mr Fehmi Tosun, who was forcibly disappeared in 1995. Jiyan Tosun works for justice, truth and reparation for her father and other victims of enforced disappearance, together with the Saturday Mothers/People. Ms Keskin is the Co-Chairperson of İHD.
On November 13, 2022, while they were sitting in a café in Küçükçekmece District, Istanbul, plainclothes police officers took Jiyan Tosun and two of her foreign clients to the Istanbul Küçükçekmece Police Station for an identity check. In the police station, Ms Tosun was informed that a bomb attack in İstiklal Street, in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, had just been perpetrated. She was questioned by the anti-terror branch police, who asked her if she had any information about the attack. Ms Tosun was released shortly after, together with her clients.
As Ms Tosun was in the police station, Mr Adem Taşkaya, a member of the Victory Party (Zafer Partisi) posted a photo of a woman, allegedly the terrorist suspect, on Twitter. Along with the photo, he published a message stating that Ms Jiyan Tosun was responsible for the attack, which killed six people and wounded 81. Even though the post was removed within three minutes, Ms Tosun and her family have been receiving offline and online threats, including death, rape and sexual violence threats, since then. On the same day, unknown individuals who identified themselves as police officers posted photos and personal information about Ms Tosun and her relatives, including minors, on a Telegram channel.
Consequently, due to her work as a lawyer in the same office as Jiyan Tosun and her position as co-chair of İHD, Eren Keskin has also been targeted and threatened as a result of the false information posted by Mr Taşkaya.
On November 14, 2022, after spending the previous night in a police station in Istanbul as a protective measure, Ms Tosun filed a criminal complaint against Mr Adem Taşkaya before the Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Ms Tosun also requested to be put under a protection scheme.
On the same day, the İHD’s İstanbul branch held a press conference to condemn the targeting and death threats against Ms Tosun, her family, as well as Ms Keskin. This public denunciation unleashed further acts of intimidation and threats both offline, through phone calls, and online. İHD requested the Istanbul Governor’s Office as well as the Ministries of Interior and Justice to immediately adopt preventive and protective measures for Ms Tosun and her relatives.
On November 16, 2022, the Ministry of Justice granted Jiyan Tosun protection measures.
The Observatory strongly condemns the acts of intimidation and death threats against Ms Tosun, her family, and Ms Keskin, as well as the maliciously incorrect information spread by Mr Taşkaya, which seem to be a deliberate attempt to punish the two İHD members for their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the authorities in Turkey to publicly declare that Jiyan Tosun and Eren Keskin have no connections with the İstiklal Street bomb attack, and they are not terrorist suspects.
The Observatory further urges the authorities to guarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Eren Keskin, and to launch an independent investigation into the above-mentioned death threats and spreading of false information.
The Observatory more generally calls on the authorities to ensure that all human rights organisations and human rights defenders in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of any undue restrictions.
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Eren Keskin, as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the above-mentioned death threats against Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Eren Keskin, as well as into the spreading of false information about them, in order to hold those responsible accountable;
iii. Put an end to all acts of stigmatisation, intimidation and threats against Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Eren Keskin as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.
- President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ. Email: email@example.com.
- Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.