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Persecution & Genocide

Watch of Shame at Delivery Room Entrance for Ayşe Ateş, A Mother Who Just Gave Birth

Ayşe Ateş, an accountant dismissed from her job due to the statutory decrees in Turkey, gave birth today. Despite the doctor’s advice, the prosecutor denied Ayşe Ateş’s mother to stay with her. Soldiers waited for Ayşe Ateş outside the delivery room entrance. After the delivery, Ayşe Ateş and her one-day-old baby were brought back to the prison. CHP Deputy and human rights activist lawyer Sezgin Tanrıkulu said, “History has not seen such unscrupulousness”.

Source: http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/boyle-vicdansizligi-tarih-yazmadi-1-gunluk-bebegiyle-tekrar-cezaevinde-h110813.html

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Police Officers That Killed 2 People Are Protected by State of Emergency

Barış Kerem and Oğuzhan Erkul were shot and killed by police officers in the Gazi Quarter of Istanbul. Attorney Meral Hanbayat’s proposal for the detainment of the accused police officers was denied by the Istanbul High Criminal Court on grounds of the Article 23 of State of Emergency laws. Attorney Hanbayat indicates that the “investigations procedures on police officers results without arrests” clause that should be used for legitimate self-defense is being used arbitrarily. Hanabayat will appeal to a higher court by noting that the decision is against the law. Accused police officers have not been dismissed, nor have they faced administrative investigation. Hanbayat stated that police officers are using firearms arbitrarily and often target vulnerable parts of people’s bodies.

Read in Turkish: http://aktifhaber.com//gundem/gazide-polisin-oldurdugu-2-kisinin-davasinda-ohal-korumasi-h110186.html

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Rights groups say 2,278 people tortured, 11 abducted in Turkey in 2017

The Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) on Saturday said 2,278 people were tortured and 11 abducted in Turkey during the first 11 months of 2017, Gazeteduvar reported.

Releasing a human rights report in Turkey under an ongoing state of emergency, the IHD and TİHV noted that human rights violations have reached worrying levels in Turkey. Recalling that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has issued 28 decree-laws since July 20, 2016, and that only five of them were approved on time by Parliament despite the fact that all legislation must be approved in accordance with the Turkish Constitution, the IHD and TİHV underlined that with its state of emergency decrees the government has created guarantees for state officials that they will not be prosecuted for violations committed during the period of emergency rule.

According to the report issued by the two rights organizations, security forces killed 36 people and wounded 12 in extrajudicial killings and by firing arbitrarily into a crowd on the pretext that they did not obey an order to stop, in the first 11 months of 2017.

A total of 695 people including 183 soldiers, 460 militants and 52 civilians were killed and 310 injured during clashes in Turkey.

Twenty-three people including six children were killed and 46 injured in accidents involving armored security vehicles.
A total of 570 people applied to the TİHV as victims of torture; 2,278 faced torture and maltreatment with 423 of such cases took place while in detention.

According to the İHD report, by May 30, 2017, 11 abduction or enforced disappearance cases had been reported in Turkey.
As of Nov. 1, there were 230,735 people in Turkish prisons, including 1,037 with health problems. The prison population numbered 178,089 in 2015 and 154,179 in 2014.

Source: https://turkeypurge.com/rights-groups-say-2278-tortured-11-abducted-turkey-2017

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Turkish Media Worker Zafer Özsoy Faces 3 Life Sentences With No Evidence

A Turkish media worker, who has been behind bars for 478 days, faces three consecutive life sentences and additional 15 years in jail on fabricated terrorism and coup plotting charges.

Zafer Özsoy, 44-year-old media professional who specializes in broadcasting network and satellite uplink services, is charged under Turkey’s abusive anti-terror laws when his company FİA was found to have provided infrastructure services to critical media outlets.

The company does not get involved in editorial policies of the clients that it provided services yet he stands accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, the Turkish government and the Turkish Parliament without any evidence to back up any of the charges.

Özsoy started his media career at Cihan News Agency in 1995 right after he graduated from İstanbul University’s Radio and Television department. He had worked almost for 20 years at the same company’s various departments. Thanks to his experience and extensive network of contacts, he became one of the best media professional in his field of expertise.

Starting in 2014, Erdoğan’s government intensified pressure on Cihan news agency and its clients, forcing the company to downsize a year later to survive by shedding some of its assets and laying off workers.

Özsoy and his colleagues who worked together for years decided to establish their own production company FİA that would serve live streaming, broadcasting and digital video content for businesses. FİA purchased some of the technical equipment from the Cihan news agency under a deal that included negotiated fee for severance and compensation payments.

However, on March 7, 2016, Turkish government unlawfully seized both the Cihan news agency and FİA as part of the escalating crackdown on critical media outlets in Turkey. Özsoy and his partners were the first ones who were fired by the government appointed trustees who took over the management of these companies.

After working 20 years in media industry, Özsoy’s dream to run his own company with a selected team of his own was over but the worst was yet to come.

He was detained on July 27, 2016 at his home in İstanbul following detention warrants were issued for 47 journalists on dubious charges. He was formally arrested on August 4, 2016 over alleged links to FETÖ, a hoax terror organisation that was fabricated by the regime of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to defame the civic Gülen movement. He was sent to notorious Silivri Prison pending trial.

During the interrogation, Özsoy was asked why he continued to work for “Zaman Newspaper” when Turkey’s biggest corruption investigations incriminating cabinet ministers and President Erdoğan’s family members were made public at the end of 2013. Erdoğan, then prime minister, presented graft probes as a coup attempt against his government and accused critical media outlets, which covered the graft scandal, of being traitors and coup plotters against his government. Özsoy told his interrogators that he has never worked in Zaman newspaper.

The police even asked Özsoy whether he made any contribution to a piece written by Today’s Zaman former editor-in-chief Bülent Keneş who forewarned that a coup would be terrible for Turkey’s future, in an article Keneş wrote on July 8, 2016. Özsoy replied “I heard about the article for the first time here.” Keneş has also been indicted over absurd terrorism charges in several cases and remain at large. Ironically, this question was asked to all suspects who were detained along with Özsoy on July 27, 2016.

Özsoy appeared before judges for the first time in 14 months after he was arrested on September 18, 2017. The most difficult moment of the hearing was that he had to defend himself against the indictment that included no direct accusation on him. The public prosecutor mentioned his name twice in 64-page indictment. The first citation of him is recorded among the list of defendants in the first part of the indictment. The second and the last was in the list of suspects for whom the prosecutor demanded severe punishment for him. The prosecutor did not bother to present any evidence against the suspect whom he asked for sentencing that amounted to three life sentences and additional 15 years in prison.

As expected the court ruled for the continuation of his arrest pending next hearing which will be held on December 8, 2017.

Özsoy who is married with two children and known for his Formula-1 passion is looking forward to being free one day and reuniting with his loved ones.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 21, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 26 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Souce: https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-media-worker-zafer-ozsoy-faces-3-life-sentences-with-no-evidence/

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Report exposes death from torture of Turkish teacher in police custody

A new report from the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Tortured to Death” exposes the case of 42-year-old history teacher Gökhan Açıkkollu, who died after enduring 13 days of torture and abuse in police detention in İstanbul.
The report details every day he was kept in custody, where he was repeatedly beaten by his interrogators. The government documents, medical reports, independent opinions and witness statements obtained by SCF and revealed in the report show his death was not due to natural causes.

“The details of this single case with hitherto unknown facts about Açıkkollu’s death have really shaken our investigators, and we have decided to dedicate this report to his memory to show the world what is taking place under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s brutally oppressive regime,” Abdullah Bozkurt, the president of SCF, said.

“He was telling doctors every day what he was going through, and the prosecutor’s office was getting copies of these records on a daily basis. Yet he was time and again sent back to detention to face a new round of torture that eventually claimed his life,”’ he added.

The report also exposes the names of the police officers who were present in the building at the time of Açıkkollu’s death and urges the Turkish government to hold to account those who were responsible for his death.

Unfortunately, the terrible saga of Açıkkollu’s family was far from over even after his death as authorities neither arranged for a hearse to transport him nor provided embalming of the body, which are standard services in Turkey for all deceased. He was hauled in a utility vehicle to the cemetery where the government imam refused to lead a prayer service. His wife, Mümüne Açıkkollu, was also briefly detained afterwards by the same prosecutor who ordered the detention of her husband.
The public prosecutor dropped the probe into torture allegations although he had more than enough evidence of torture according to the documents provided by government-designated health facilities. Several witnesses came forward and testified to torture. After a long legal challenge, the prosecutor had to open another probe, but there was no progress reported on the second probe, either.

Turkish authorities continue to deny that there is torture in Turkey while blocking the publication of a report by the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee (CPT), which visited Turkey for a fact-finding mission in September 2016.

The accumulation of overwhelming evidence in this case is quite valuable considering that the police in Turkey often try to cover up the commission of crimes. Authorities tamper with evidence and doctors’ records and ensure that the text of witness accounts, autopsies and medical reports reflect the official version of the detainee’s death.

Deaths in detention and prisons due to torture, abuse and ill treatment have become a recurring theme in Turkey with close to 100 cases reported as suspicious deaths and suicides in the last 16 months alone.

Many human rights monitoring groups have documented cases of torture and ill treatment of detainees that suggest a widespread, systematic and deliberate torture by the government of President Erdoğan.

SCF has already published several reports confirming that such cases have been taking place in detention centers and jails or sometimes in black sites that were used as mass holding facilities for a large number of detainees without due process.

Source: https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/11/21/report-exposes-death-from-torture-of-turkish-teacher-in-police-custody/

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Turkish family of 5 drowns trying to flee to Greece

A Turkish family of five attempting to flee persecution in Turkey has drowned in the Aegean Sea near the Greek island of Lesvos, according to the Aktif Haber news portal.

Sources told Aktif Haber that bodies recently found by Greek authorities on Lesvos belong to Hüseyin Maden, who was affiliated with faith-based Gülen movement, and his family members.

The sources told Aktif Haber that relatives of the Maden family in Turkey’s Samsun province had not heard from them for several days, leading to speculation that the bodies found by Greek authorities might belong to the five members of the Maden family.

According to information gathered by Aktif Haber, detention warrants were outstanding for Hüseyin Maden (40), his wife Nur Maden (36). Both were teachers who were sacked from their jobs following a failed coup last year over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of being behind the coup attempt. The couple and their children Nadire Maden (13), Bahar Maden (10) and Feridun Maden (7) drowned as they fled from the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime’s persecution targeting members of the Gülen movement.

Greek authorities delivered identity cards found on the bodies to Turkish police to see whether they belonged to members of the Maden family.

It was reported on Nov. 11 in the Greek media that authorities had discovered three dead children within the space of a few days on the northeast coast of Lesvos, baffling local port authorities, who launched an investigation.

According to the reports, the body of a boy in an advanced stage of decomposition and undetermined age was found on Nov. 11 near Mantamado. It followed the discovery of two other bodies, of a boy aged between 12 and 13 on Friday and a similarly aged girl on Thursday. Both were also found near Mantamado. Investigators estimate that all three were refugees, but no bodies or organizations that work with refugees have reported anyone missing.

According to the Lesvos News, the Greek police speculated that the three children were refugees, part of a larger group that died as they tried to approach the island on a boat. They are investigating the case by interviewing refugees who recently arrived on Lesvos. A post-mortem examination is expected to shed light on the case.

Many people have tried to flee Turkey illegally as the Turkish government canceled their passports.

Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Source: https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/11/21/turkish-family-of-5-drown-trying-to-flee-to-greece/

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Deterioration of the Internet Freedom

 

Freedom of the Net 2017 Report Prepared by the Freedom House: Summary of the Parts Concerning Turkey

In November 2017, the Freedom House published a report titled Freedom of the Net 2017 which assesses the internet freedom around the world making country-based evaluations.

According to the Report, Turkey falls into the category of “Not Free” in 2017. Together with Egypt and Ukraine, Turkey is in the top three countries who declined most compared to the last year. Turkey and Russia are both ranked as 15th among 65 countries falling behind countries such as Myanmar, Sudan and Venezuela. The Report refers to different applications in Turkey many times showing that the State has been taking considerably restrictive measures.

Especially in 2017 thousands of people were arrested and/or taken into custody for downloading a mobile communication app called ByLock reasoning that coup plotters allegedly used the same app as well. The Report highlights that the app was easily accessible as well as publicly available in different app stores.

According to the Freedom House, the Turkish government has not only been using the internet to accuse government critics of serious crimes, but also to manipulate public discussions and control particular agendas. As per the allegations, around 6,000 people were employed to achieve these aims. To illustrate, many dissident journalists and academics have been dealing with online harassment by pro-government troll accounts through social media websites. Disinformation methods used by the State vary including paying government commentators (without explicit sponsorship), maintaining pro-government media and propaganda, hijacking politically dissent websites (such as social media accounts and news sites), and lastly creating fake news around elections intentionally to affect voters.

Besides these direct methods, the Turkish government uses indirect restrictions as well to control the use of the internet. To exemplify, WhatsApp as the most common mobile communication app was throttled many times especially right after significant political events and became almost inaccessible. Moreover, Turkey has taken measures to limit and control VPNs channels which enable internet users to reach banned websites and content. For example, Tor which is one of the most secure VPNs has been targeted by repressive governments. The Report emphasizes that Turkey has also applied new blocking orders to limit the use of Tor network making it harder for users to reach.

The Report specifies topics and content censored by the Turkish government; some of which can be listed as criticisms of authorities, corruption, conflict, political opposition, satire as well as mobilization for public causes. Out of 9 types of key internet controls categorized by the Freedom House, Turkey has been applying 7 of them including blocking of online communication tools, network shutdowns, increasing censorship through new laws, arrest and imprisonment of opposing internet users.

To sum up, the Freedom of the Net 2017 report illustrates how Turkey has been using the internet to serve the government’s own interests and also to limit individual freedoms such as freedom of expression and right to privacy.

Download pdf version:Freedom of the Net 2017

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