Tony Fisher, member of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, has written a report after observing the most recent hearing in the case of Abdullah Ocalan’s lawyers, who were arrested in November 2011 following simultaneous police raids across several Turkish cities. The arrest of these 45 lawyers, all of them members of Ocalan’s legal team, formed part of the so-called ‘KCK operations’, in which over 8,000 people have been arrested for alleged membership to the Kurdistan Communities Union, the KCK.
The KNK has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ calling for the release of hundreds of critically ill prisoners who are languishing in Turkish jails without proper medical attention. As the letter explains, despite recent changes to the law that would allow for seriously ill prisoners to be released, any prisoner charged under the anti-terror law who is suffering health problems has no chance of release under the current rules.
We know of at least 544 prisoners in Turkey are seriously ill who deserve to be released. We also know that 2300 people have died in Turkish prisons in the last 13 years.
The appeal has been signed by over 12o prominent public figures from across the world, including Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chair of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP); writer and former political prisoner Ragip Zarakolu; Professor Noam Chomsky; several Members of the British, Irish and European Parliaments; and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to name a few. The appeal was also published in Turkish daily Radikal.
The Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers wrote to the Turkish Ambassador in London yesterday expressing concern over the continued imprisonment of lawyer and human rights campaigner Muharrem Erbey.
The letter was written in response to PEN International’s call to action for Erbey, whose trial is set to continue with a hearing on the 13 January. Find out more about the campaign here.
The European Parliament Foreign Affairs committee (AFET) has produced a draft report on the European Commission’s 2013 (EU Enlargement) Progress Report on Turkey, published in October this year.
The AFET is the first body within the European Parliament to assess the EC’s yearly progress reports and this draft is the first indication of the European Parliament’s official position on the report. AFET Report will be adopted most probably in January 2014 (the deadline for amendments is foreseen for next 8th of January, an AFET meeting is scheduled for the end of January), and then, after its adoption in AFET, it will be sent to the E.P. Plenary for final adoption in STRASBOURG. Before the final adoption of the report in March, there is an opportunity for interested parties to suggest amendments to the report. Peace in Kurdistan campaign made its own submissions last year, and will do so again this year.
You can download a copy of the AFET draft report here.
The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers has written an open letter to the President of Turkey expressing grave concern over charges against their colleague Ramazan Demir, a lawyer and member of the Istanbul Bar who is facing disciplinary charges for allegedly “offending the dignity of a public authority in the performance of its duties” while defending his client in court during the KCK trial of 44 journalists in Istanbul.
To: President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
27 November 2013
Letter of Concern regarding Av. Ramazan Demir/Istanbul Bar
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers I am writing to express our serious concern about the charges against our colleague Advocate Ramazan Demir. We know Adv. Demir as a highly responsible lawyer and we are greatly concerned to hear of these attacks on his professional integrity.
This week we received information about two important petitions that need your support.
The first is a Change.org petition for Selçuk Kozağaçlı and his colleagues at the Progressive Lawyers’ Association in Turkey who have been in detention without bail since their arrest in January this year:
AVUKATIM/MESLEKTAŞIM DERHÂL SERBEST BIRAKILSIN! RELEASE MY LAWYER/COLLEAGUE RİGHT NOW!
Read more about the arrests here
The second calls for justice for journalists in Turkey and is one the European Federation of Journalists’ (EFJ) many efforts in the last two years to oppose government repression of journalists and media workers in Turkey:
Justice for Journalists in Turkey
Journalists are not terrorists. The justice system in Turkey has failed its journalists.
To find out more about theEFJ’s Set Journalists Free in Turkey campaign, go to their website.
Please sign the petitions and share widely!
24 October 2013
Turkey’s anti-terror legislation has come under fire once again as five lawyers who recently returned from Istanbul gave a damning critique of one of Turkey’s now notorious ‘KCK trials’ at a public event held a Garden Court Chambers.
The lawyers formed part of a 6-person strong delegation that observed the trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers, who are being prosecuted for their work defending imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. What they witnessed, they told the meeting, was a political show trial taking place in the context of peace talks between Ocalan and the Turkish government that reveals far more about authoritarianism in Turkey than the supposed criminality of the defendants. The meeting was chaired by Bill Bowring, Professor of Law at Birkbeck University.
Full report on the KCK Trial of Lawyers in Istanbul
By Bronwen Jones
Hearing of 6 November 2012
The court building at Koaeli Prison in Silivri is an approximately two-hour journey from Istanbul.
There was a significant Jandarma (gendarmerie) presence at the court. International observers were required to surrender mobile phones, but were not searched on entry into the court building or show any identification, and were all permitted to sit inside court and were allowed access to court facilities. Visiting Turkish lawyers showed their bar cards and were also permitted inside the courtroom.
Please find below information on our next meeting, which is free and open to the public. All welcome!
Anti-terror Legislation and the Obstruction of Justice
The Implications of Mass Trials in Turkey for the Peace Process with the Kurds
Wednesday 9 October 2013, 6.30pm
Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2A (closest tube Holborn)
Chair: Prof Bill Bowring School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London; President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH); International Secretary of the Haldane Society and Founder and Chair of the International Steering Committee, of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC).
Panelists: Margaret Owen OBE, barrister/Door tenant, 9 Bedford Row Chambers; Bronwen Jones, barrister, Tooks Chambers; Tony Fisher, solicitor and Law Society Human Rights Committee member; Hugo Charlton, barrister, 1 Grays Inn Square Chambers; Ali Has, solicitor/advocate and member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team; Mark Jones, barrister, St Ives Chambers.
Organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)
Press Statement, 24.09.2013
Six UK lawyers*) formed part of the 30-strong delegation of European human rights lawyers, from several countries, that, on the 17th September, observed, at the Silivri prison court, the 6th hearing of the trial of 45 Kurdish lawyers, who face criminal charges under Turkey’s anti-terror laws.
It has been 22 months since these lawyers were rounded up in dawn raids by Turkey’s anti-terror police. Throughout this period many of the defendants have been held in pre-trial detention, without any reason being given. From time to time, some have been bailed, but 16 lawyers still remain incarcerated.
The next one-day hearing will not be until December 19th, but trials such as these could be prolonged so as to go on for many years.