Meetings with Turkish Lawyers in Istanbul – Report by Richard Harvey

Chair of Garden Court International and member of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Richard Harvey, recently met with lawyers in Turkey to discuss the arrest and imprisonment of dozens of Kurdish and Turkish lawyers on terrorism charges. He has kindly given us permission to reproduce his report into these meetings here.

Further addenda to his report can be downloaded here.




Garden Court Chambers
57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London WC2A 3LJ


  1. Having read many recent reports of mass arrests of lawyers, trade union leaders and other human rights defenders in Turkey, I arranged to meet with a number of lawyers during my recent visit to Istanbul.  I am particularly grateful for the assistance of Mr. Thomas Schmidt, Secretary General of ELDH,[2] to Ms. Adrie van de Streek, Managing Director of L4L,[3] and to Ms. Ayse Bingol for arranging these meetings.
  2. The history of the Turkish government’s targeting of criminal defence lawyers has been well documented by ELDH, L4L, IADL, Haldane and others.  My purpose was to learn about the most recent developments following the mass arrests of 85 human rights defenders, including 15 lawyers, on 18 January 2013.
  3. Continue reading

President of the Law Society writes to Erdogan

The President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, has written an open letter to PM Erdogan, with her concerns about the repeated violation of human rights suffered by lawyers in Turkey over the last year.

You can download a copy of the letter here (pdf)






Event: Lawyers on Trial in Turkey – Implications for Establishing Peace and Justice

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign supported by the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and CAMPACC

Public Meeting

“Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: Implications for Establishing Peace and Justice”

Thursday, 28 February, 6.30-8pm

Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, SW1

IMPORTANT Please try and arrive at 6pm to make sure you leave enough time to get through security

Hosted by Siobhain McDonagh MP

Speakers: Michael Mansfield QC, President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Prof Bill Bowring, President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)

Melanie Gingell, barrister Tooks Chambers and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee: observed hearings in Turkey on 6 November 2012 and 3 January 2013

Margaret Owen OBE, barrister and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee: observed hearings in Turkey on 16 July 2012 and 6 November 2012

Chaired by Ali Has, Solicitor Advocate

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14 years too long: “Freedom for Ocalan!”

This text is from a leaflet orginially published by International Initiative – Peace in Kurdistan. It can be downloaded as a pdf here so that copies can be printed for distribution at meetings, protests and other such actions.

Freedom for Ocalan leafletFreedom for Abdullah Öcalan

Who is Abdullah Öcalan?
Millions of Kurds regard Abdullah Öcalan as their political representative. About 3.5 million Kurds have testified this in a signature campaign in 2006. He is the most important exponent of their struggle for cultural rights and democracy and has become a symbol for the freedom of the Kurds. Öcalan opposes separatism and secessionism and stands for a democratic Middle East with all the peoples having equal rights which he has put forward as his perspective for a solution. A worldwide signature campaign for his freedom was recently launched.

Tireless peace efforts
Since 1993, Öcalan has been trying to create conditions that are suitable for a peaceful solution of the conflict. Even after his illegal abduction and imprisonment in 1999, he has remained a consistent advocate of a peaceful, political solution. From 2006 to 2011 he led talks with the Turkish government for a political solution to the conflict. In 2009 he presented his “Road Map for Negotiations”. In July 2011 Erdogan terminated the talks, only to restart them in November 2012 after much bloodshed and a huge hunger strike by political prisoners.

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Legal Profession in Turkey under attack: Four lawyers sentenced to long prison terms

– Press Release –

On 24 January 2013, four Ankara lawyers, Ms Filiz Kalaycı,  Mr Hasan Anlar, Mr Halil İbrahim Vargün and Mr Murat Vargün received sentences ranging from  6 years and 3 months to 7 years and 6 months in jail on charges of being a member of “an armed, illegal organization”. International observers fear that these charges are merely based on the lawyers’ legitimate professional activities and their involvement in the promotion of universal human rights standards.

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Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists has written a special report on the imprisonment of journalists worldwide – and Turkey occupies the proud position of number one jailer in the world. As ever, the EFJ has been ensuring that this information get circulated widely as part of their Set journalists free in Turkey campaign, and has provided a link to the report below as part of their weekly update.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched an international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey.

11 Dec 2012 – For Turkey, world’s leading jailer, a path forward, CPJ. Full link.

11 Dec 2012 – Number of jailed journalists sets global record, CPJ. Link to full report.

11 Dec 2012 – A record-number 232 journalists are imprisoned worldwide and Turkey has the highest number, ABC News

10 Dec 2012 – Operation in Istanbul : 2 journalists (Zozan Eser and Sadiye Eser) under arrest, Bianet (in Turkish)

10 Dec 2012 – Turkish cinema asks: Which human rights?, Hürriyet Daily News Continue reading

KCK lawyers trial: Report by Melanie Gingell

The following is the latest in a series of personal reports written by members of a recent UK delegation to Istanbul. The delegation observed the continuation of the lawyers KCK trial, and included solicitor Ali Has, human rights lawyer Margaret Owen OBE, the Law Society’s Tony Fisher, and Bronwen Jones and Melanie Gingell, of Tooks Chambers, London. Here, Melanie Gingell gives her impressions of the trial and her concerns about how the trial is proceeding.

Tony Fisher, member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, also participated in the delegation and wrote this report last week.

We will bring you further reports in the coming weeks.


In response to an invitation from a Kurdish solidarity campaign PIK, I attended the trial of 47 lawyers in Istanbul on 6th Nov 2012.

I was part of a 5 person delegation comprising 3 barristers and 2 solicitors from the UK. Legal delegations from France, Switzerland, Germany, Canada also attended the trial. Continue reading

Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched an international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey. Below is the latest news update:

07 Nov 2012 – Stand Up For Journalism 2012 in Brussels Full link  (video and pictures)

07 Nov 2012 – Stand Up For Journalism 2012 in Turkey (pictures and press coverage), in EFJ’s webpage Full link

07 Nov 2012 – Council of Europe : Post-monitoring visit to Turkey by PACE rapporteur, in CoE website Full link

07 Nov 2012 – Still 8 imprisoned journalists remain on indefinite hunger strike, in EFJ’s webpage Full link

07 Nov 2012 – Journalist Sinan Aygün and 11 other detainees released (pending trial) in KCK Bitlis case, in DIHA Full link Continue reading

KCK lawyers’ trial: Report by Tony Fisher

The following report was written by Tony Fisher, from the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, who participated in a UK delegation of lawyers to Istanbul this week. The delegation observed the latest hearing of the KCK lawyers’ trial, which was eventually adjourned until the new year.

The report was originally published on the Law Society website. More reports from the delegation will follow.



In November 2011 mass arrests of some 46 Kurdish and Turkish lawyers took place in raids carried out simultaneously in many Turkish cities and provinces.

The arrest of these lawyers is linked with many thousands of other arrests which have taken place, mainly of Kurdish Turkish nationals, since 2009. Most of those arrested have had some connection with a Kurdish organisation established by Abdullah Ocalan, namely the union of Communities in Kurdestan (otherwise known as the KCK). The trials of these individuals, including the lawyers trials, have become known as the KCK trials. In all some 8,000 defendants have been charged with terrorist offences. They include politicians, journalists, academics and other human rights defenders as well as the lawyers. Continue reading

Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update


The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched an international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey.
see here :

01 Nov 2012 – Journalist Receives Jail Terms for Newspaper Headline <> , in Bianet
01 Nov 2012 – Turkey broke its own record in arresting journalists <> , in Bianet

01 Nov 2012 – At least 9 imprisoned journalists on indefinite hunger strike <> , in EFJ’s webpage Continue reading