CHD press release on mass arrests of lawyers

Yesterday, the Istanbul court decided that 9 lawyers, among them CHD President Selcuk Kozagacli and Chair of Istanbul Branch Taylan Tanay should be taken to prison.

They were initially arrested last week in police raids targeting the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). You can read our statement on these arrests, as well as a press release below by the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD).

The lawyers giving a final speech to the crowd before being taken into prison

The lawyers giving a final speech to the crowd before being taken into prison

PRESS RELEASE OF PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (ÇHD)

Arrest warrants were issued on January, 18 2013 against 16 lawyers on the claimed suspicion of them being members of an illegal organization and despite the lack of a suspicion that they would escape.

Today we are expecting that our colleagues who have been under police custody for the last 3 days be brought to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Under Turkish law and according to the Legal Practitioners Act and the Criminal Procedure Act;

Our colleagues had to be directly brought to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Court House to give their defense statements without being taken under police custody.

Search and arrest warrants had to be issued by court and not by a public prosecutor.

The Public Prosecutor and a representative of the Bar Association had to accompany the police officers while entering the lawyers’ offices and houses for search.

The warrants for the arrests and the searches had to clearly state the concrete incident and the items to be searched.

UN treaties and treaties of the European Council signed by Turkey state that it is the obligation of the State authorities to ensure the independent practice of the lawyers’ profession. They also put that lawyers’ practice of their profession must be protected from improper interference that could come from the government and other public authorities.

All these rules and principles were violated under the name of “legal prosecution”.

What did the Progressive Lawyers Association, its executives and members do to be ‘swept away’ under unlawful orders?

They (we) have been advocating;

  • workers whose trade unions are raided and whom you beat on the streets just because they ask their bosses to pay.
  • students, expelled from schools and universities or practically disabled to get education because of disciplinary proceedings;
  • families of innocent victims whom you kill by tens every year because “they did not obey the order to stop”
  • Kurds you have been forcing to live in a pool of blood; Kurdish politicians you render unable to talk; Kurdish lawyers you render unable to practice legal profession.
  • people beaten to death or left crippled in police stations and prisons.
  • ecologic cases for this lovely country which you have made uninhabitable with hydroelectric power plants, gold mines with cyanide, immense cement factories and nuclear power plants.
  • slum-dwellers, victims of urban transformation, whom you told to “go away” while demolishing their houses.
  • women and their families, whom you cripple or murder by five every day in the name of “honour, morals or family”,
  • Hrant Dink whom you got murdered exactly 6 years ago by murderers whom you then released; religious and ethnic minorities, innocents and victims whom you have been tormenting and slaughtering,
  • the Syrian people against those and the protectors of those who have the Syrians slaughtered, plundered and raped by allowing armed assailants inside the borders of the country.
  • all socialists, revolutionaries, opponents in labour, democrats, all those who object crimes against the public.
  • In short, they have been advocating the common people of our country. They have been advocating.

This unlawful, so-called ‘operation’ distinctively targeted at the Progressive Lawyers Association, an institution dedicated to the struggle for the freedom of the right to legal remedies, is a systematic and insidious attack not only against the right of legal defense and the lawyers’ profession but also against all human rights advocates and thus the right to access to justice for everyone.

Yesterday, the ÇHD offices as well as ÇHD members’ houses and offices in Istanbul and Ankara were unlawfully searched. The Association’s members list, commission reports and a great amount of documents were seized.

The police report filed after the search at the Progressive Lawyers Association President Ad. Selçuk Kozağaçlı’s office states that “no weapons, ammunition, explosive materials, materials used for producing explosive materials, organizational documents or material that can be considered as criminal were found. Therefore no items were seized. ”

What did they expect to find anyway? They knew very well that there was nothing related to the ‘accusation’ to be found.

We have seen quite a few interesting coincidences in the last few years and strangely, just before the police search we had computer problems giving rise to the thought of outside intervention. The phones that were sealed and seized while our colleagues were being taken under custody must have been unsealed later by the police, for it was possible to call them and send short messages from them. Shall we wait for the expected conspiracy to be staged now?

The Public Prosecutor who overlooks the police’s violation of privacy to the detriment of the suspects also shuts his eyes to torture and inhuman treatment violating the Criminal Procedure Act and human rights. On top of it, he finds insufficient and demands the extension of the custody period that, in fact, should never have been imposed!

The detainees including our colleagues are being tortured right now. This is how:

  • Our colleagues under custody are forcibly being made lie down on the floor and body-searched by riot police officers after each lawyer-client meeting in an effort to turn the meeting into torture.
  • Samples from their blood and saliva and their fingerprints are taken by force. Our colleagues are dragged on the floor during this procedure.
  • Those of our colleagues who would like to meet their water requirements with tap water are being refused to do so.
  • Lawyer Naciye Demir has not been allowed in the toilets for 24 hours despite her insistent demands.
  • The hunger strikers protesting the unlawful arrests are prevented from getting water and sugar. Complaints are filed against those of our colleagues who try to give the strikers water and sugar and cameras record their images.
  • Our colleagues are being threatened during meetings with their clients by police chiefs who enter the visiting room and say “The lawyers upstairs are there because we filed complaints against them after they tried to give water and sugar. This is how you will end up, too.”

Since 1974, Progressive Lawyers Association and Progressive lawyers have been part of the heritage of a legal profession tradition that deals with unjust, unlawful and irregular trials, investigations and procedures imposed by public prosecutors and the police.

We would like to let the whole public know that this intervention named ‘operation’ against the Progressive Lawyers Association and its executives as well as the Law Office of the People is not a criminal investigation. This is an effort to justify under the name of ‘operation’ what is in fact a systematic campaign of political lynching against all parts of the society and their defenders, who oppose and refuse to adopt the government’s ideology.

PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

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