Protest against the arrest of human rights campaigner, Osman Isci, and 27 trade unionists

29th June 2012

In a joint statement, the organisations listed below have expressed their concerns about the arrest of 28 trade unionists, amongst them being Osman Isci.

Contents: 1. Background 2. Demands 3. Signatories 4. Contacts 5. Websites

Background

On 28th/29th June 2012, the Heavy Penal Court (12) in Ankara issued a warrant of arrest against Osman Isci, a member of the human rights group IHD, of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network  EMHRN, and the education trade union Egitim-Sen, which in turn belongs to the Confederation of Trade Unions for Public Services. Another 27 trade unionists were also taken into custody under the charge of membership to an illegal organisation according to article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. 25 trade unionists were released, but can expect to face trial.

All suspects were arrested for the charge, so-called the “city-structure” of the PKK, of belonging to the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). As well as the education trade union Egitim-Sen, the trade unions of the SES (Occupations in Health and Social Services), the BTS (Occupations in Transportation), and representatives of these trade unions in the provinces of Ankara, Diyarbakir, Istanbul, Agri, Bitlis, Siirt, Adana and Eskisehir were also affected.

It must be feared that the prisoners will be in prison until the conclusion of the investigations – they can last between 6 and 12 months. The code of criminal procedure (Ceza Muhakemesi Kanunu, CMK) allows for detention without trial for up to 10 years. The long terms of detention have led to many convictions through the European Court of Human Rights. The CMK has been employed directly against human rights activists in the last few years – it restricts the right to defence, allows a lengthy detention and trial period, and prevents the defendants from accessing proof and witness statements from those participating in the trial.

Demands

Our organisations are deeply concerned by the woolly definition of “terrorism” and concerned that this definition is used by the courts, the officials (the state), in order to interpret simple critiques of the human rights situation as support for, or membership to, terrorist groups.

For these reasons, we see the arbitrary imprisonment of Osman Isci and 27 trade unionists as a punishment for their commitment to human rights, and demand their immediate and unconditional release. We demand from the relevant parties, that they guarantee the immediate and unrestricted access to the records of the trial to the defence.

We demand that the Turkish officials end this pressure, to which many human rights campaigners have been exposed through trials, and to act in accordance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which was established by full UN assembly on 9th June 1998.

The Signatories

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)

Front Line Defenders

Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims

Helsinki Yurttaşlar Derneği / Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Turkey

İnsan Hakları Derneği/Human Rights Association (IHD) – Turkey

Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı/Human Rights Foundation (TIHV/HRFT) – Turkey

 

Contacts

FIDH: Karine Appy / Arthur Manet: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

EMHRN: Hayet Zeghiche: +32 488 08 00 41

OMCT: Isabelle Scherer: + 41 22 809 49 39

Front Line Defenders: Jim Joughran: +353 1 212 3750

Human Rights Association (IHD) and TIHV/HRFT:   Erdem Türközü: +90 312 230 35 67

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly: Kerem Çiftçioğlu: +90 532 408 26 26

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