“You are our last hope” – “We need you” – “We are counting on you” – “Will this ever stop?”
These are the messages that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is sending to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Turkey’s arbitrarily imprisoned journalists, by means of a communication campaign launched on social networks today.
For Turkish journalists who have been arbitrarily jailed, the European Court offers the last hope or being released. The proceedings against these journalists violate the European Convention on Human Rights, with which Turkey must comply as a member of the Council of Europe.
In 2017, the European Court agreed to consider the 20 applications it had received from journalists imprisoned in Turkey, and to give priority to these cases. However, the applications are limited to the issue of their provisional detention and will have little effect after the Turkish courts have finished trying them and have passed sentences.
So, this is urgent. The European Court needs to act quickly!
Three well-known journalists, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak, were already sentenced to life imprisonment on 16 February on a charge of “trying to overthrow constitutional order” for criticizing the government during a TV broadcast on the eve of an abortive coup d’état in July 2016.
This month, the trial of the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s journalists is due to resume and a verdict is expected in the trial of 26 journalists accused of working for media that supported the movement led by Fethullah Gülen, the alleged instigator of the 2016 coup attempt. The two cases are emblematic of the arbitrary justice prevailing in Turkey’s courts.
The net is closing fast on Turkey’s imprisoned journalists, so RSF urges the European Court to act before it is too late, before sentences are passed!
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
#Turkey: All is not lost for the imprisoned journalists, the European Court of Human Rights (@ECHRPublication) can still change the situation. This is urgent, ECHR, you need to act quickly! #SaveTurkishJournalistshttps://t.co/DDwkdakC0v pic.twitter.com/rFmBM0STG1
— RSF (@RSF_inter) March 2, 2018
Dear President Erdoğan,
We wish to draw your attention to the damage being done to the Republic of Turkey, to its reputation and the dignity and well-being of its citizens, through what leading authorities on freedom of expression deem to be the unlawful detention and wrongful conviction of writers and thinkers.
In a Memorandum on the Freedom of Expression in Turkey (2017), Nils Muižnieks, then Council of Europe commissioner for Human Rights, warned:
“The space for democratic debate in Turkey has shrunk alarmingly following increased judicial harassment of large strata of society, including journalists, members of parliament, academics and ordinary citizens, and government action which has reduced pluralism and led to self-censorship. This deterioration came about in a very difficult context, but neither the attempted coup nor other terrorist threats faced by Turkey, can justify measures that infringe media freedom and disavow the rule of law to such an extent.
“The authorities should urgently change course by overhauling criminal legislation and practice, redevelop judicial independence and reaffirm their commitment to protect free speech.”
There is no clearer example of the commissioner’s concern that the detention in September 2016 of Ahmet Altan, a bestselling novelist and columnist; Mehmet Altan, his brother, professor of economics and essayist; and Nazlı Ilıcak, a prominent journalist – all as part of a wave of arrests following the failed July 2016 coup. These writers were charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through violence or force. The prosecutors originally wanted to charge them with giving “subliminal messages” to coup supporters while appearing on a television panel show. The ensuing tide of public ridicule made them change that accusation to using rhetoric “evocative of a coup”. Indeed, Turkey’s official Anatolia News Agency called the case “The Coup Evocation Trial”.
As noted in the commissioner’s report, the evidence considered by the judge in Ahmet Altan’s case was limited to a story dating from 2010 in Taraf newspaper (of which Ahmet Altan had been the editor-in-chief until 2012), three of his op-ed columns and a TV appearance. The evidence against the other defendants was equally insubstantial. All these writers had spent their careers opposing coups and militarism of any sort, and yet were charged with aiding an armed terrorist organisation and staging a coup.
The commissioner saw the detention and prosecution of Altan brothers as part of a broader pattern of repression in Turkey against those expressing dissent or criticism of the authorities. He considered such detentions and prosecutions to have violated human rights and undermined the rule of law. David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, concurred and dubbed the legal proceedings a “show trial”.
Turkey’s own constitutional court concurred with this criticism. On 11 January this year, it ruled that Mehmet Altan and fellow journalist Şahin Alpay’s rights were being violated by pre-trial detention, and that they should be released. Yet the first-degree courts refused to implement the higher constitutional court’s decision, thus placing the judicial system in criminal violation of the constitution. Mr President, you must surely be concerned that the lower criminal court’s defiance and this non-legal decision was backed by the spokesperson of your government.
On 16 February 2018, the Altan brothers and Ilıcak were sentenced to aggravated life sentences, precluding them from any prospect of a future amnesty.
President Erdoğan, we the undersigned share the following opinion of David Kaye: “The court decision condemning journalists to aggravated life in prison for their work, without presenting substantial proof of their involvement in the coup attempt or ensuring a fair trial, critically threatens journalism and with it the remnants of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey”.
In April 1998, you yourself were stripped of your position as mayor of Istanbul, banned from political office, and sentenced to prison for 10 months, for reciting a poem during a public speech in December 1997 through the same article 312 of the penal code. This was unjust, unlawful and cruel. Many human rights organisations – which defended you then – are appalled at the violations now occurring in your country. Amnesty International, PEN International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, and Reporters Without Borders are among those who oppose the recent court decision.
During a ceremony in honour of Çetin Altan, on 2 February 2009, you declared publicly that “Turkey is no longer the same old Turkey who used to sentence its great writers to prison – this era is gone for ever.” Among the audience were Çetin Altan’s two sons: Ahmet and Mehmet. Nine years later, they are sentenced to life; isn’t that a fundamental contradiction?
Under these circumstances, we voice the concern of many inside Turkey itself, of its allies and of the multilateral organisations of which it is a member. We call for the abrogation of the state of emergency, a quick return to the rule of law and for full freedom of speech and expression. Such a move would result in the speedy acquittal on appeal of Ms Ilıcak and the Altan brothers, and the immediate release of others wrongfully detained. Better still, it would make Turkey again a proud member of the free world.
Full list of Nobel laureate signatories:
Svetlana Alexievich, Philip W Anderson, Aaron Ciechanover, JM Coetzee, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Elias J Corey, Gerhard Ertl, Albert Fert, Edmond H Fischer, Andrew Z Fire, Andre Geim, Sheldon Glashow, Serge Haroche, Leland H Hartwell, Oliver Hart, Richard Henderson, Dudley Herschbach, Avram Hershko, Roald Hoffmann, Robert Huber, Tim Hunt, Kazuo Ishiguro, Elfriede Jelinek, Eric S Maskin, Hartmut Michel, Herta Müller, VS Naipaul, William D Phillips, John C Polanyi, Richard J Roberts, Randy W Schekman, Wole Soyinka, Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas C Südhof, Jack W Szostak, Mario Vargas Llosa, J Robin Warren, Eric F Wieschaus
Download as pdf: AST_Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly_Feb 26
Turkey’s Human Rights Violations | 2/19/2018-2/26/2018
1-” Afghan national detained over Gülen links in Izmir”
2-” Luxury Bursa mansion seized from Gulen-linked businessman”
3-” Owner of Hosta fast-food chain sentenced to 10 years in jail”
4-” 786 people detained for opposing Turkey’s Afrin operation in past month: data”
5-” 567 people detained over Gülen links in past week: gov’t”
6-” Economics professor from gov’t-closed Meliksah University jailed”
7-” Politician arrested after WhatsApp messages reported to police by bus passenger”
8-” Teacher couple jailed as newborn twins under grandmother’s care: report”
9-” Woman who miscarried twins during pretrial detention sentenced to 7.5 years in jail”
10-” Turkey cooperates with smugglers to catch Gulenists seeking asylum abroad: teacher”
11-” Turkish court rules for continuation of arrest of pro-Kurdish journalist: report”
12-” Turkey seeks 27-year jail term for 2 university students over ‘pro-Kurdish anthem’”
13-” 4 Adana journalists given prison sentences of up to 9 years over terror charges”
14-” Turkey’s opposition leader slams life sentences handed down to Altan brothers, Nazlı Ilıcak”
15-” 15 including pro-Kurdish activist Celalettin Can arrested on terror charges in İstanbul”
16-” Ankara prosecutor issues detention warrants for 47 teachers
17-” Two Gülen followers abducted in Azerbaijan: report”
18-” 10 including 5 children, 2 teachers detained while seeking asylum in Greece”
19-” 17 Turkish nationals including 6 children claim asylum in Greek islands: report”
20-” [VIDEO] Turkish customs stops container, seizes belongings of exiled businessman”
21-” [VIDEO] Journalist Ener: I was released but there are newborn babies in prison”
22-” Rights defender Gergerlioğlu gets 2.5 year prison sentence on terror charges”
23-” Owner of now-defunct Izmir University detained for funding intercultural dialog events”
24-” Turkey detains yet another 11 people for criticizing Afrin operation”
25-” Turks, the leading refugee group in the Netherlands in 2017: report”
26-” Netherlands accepts 73 percent of asylum applications from Turkish citizens: report”
27-” 13 Kimse Yok Mu aid foundation personnel under police custody”
28-” [VIDEO] Former TRT producer detained while on way to escape to Greece”
29-” Teacher with 25 years of experience working as hotel receptionist after dismissal”
30-” 5-months pregnant woman detained as police fail to locate husband: report”
31-” Wedding singers put in pretrial detention over songs in Kurdish language”
32-” Family of visually impaired journalist says his whereabouts are unknown”
33-” 13 Kimse Yok Mu aid foundation officials detained over Gülen links”
34-” 80 women reportedly subjected to inhumane treatment at Mersin police station”
35-” Erdoğan to embark on new Africa tour targeting Gülen movement”
36-” ‘Merciless, unjust and unfair,’ author Pamuk says of conviction of journalists”
37-” Amnesty report says dissent being ruthlessly suppressed in Turkey”
38-” Prominent rights activist gets 2.5-year jail sentence on terror charges”
39-” Turkey arrests 16 HDP, HDK officials including prominent figure”
40-” 4 journalists receive sentences of up to 9 years in prison”
41-” Investigation launched into imam questioning donations to mosques”
42-” Turkey’s Erdoğan Vows To Pursue Gülen Movement Followers Who ‘Escaped The Sword’”
43-” Kurdish Media Reports That Yezidis In Afrin Afraid Of A Genocide By Turkish Military”
44-” Turkish Teacher, Not Assigned Over His Alleged Links To Gülen Movement, Killed In Workplace Accident”
45-” Transparency Int’l Index Shows Level Of Corruption In Turkey Worsens Dramatically”
Türkiye tarafından işlenenen İnsan Hakları İhlalleri | 2/19/2018-2/26/2018
1-” Kürtçe şarkı söyleyen müzisyenlerle düğün sahibi tutuklandı”
2-” Hizmetten olduğu gerekçesiyle ataması yapılmayan öğretmen iş kazasında öldü”
3-” Ayşen Gruda’dan Koçyiğit’e sert çıkış: Daha ne yapsınlar pardon, kamçıyla mı dövsünler bizi?”
4-” Mersin Emniyeti’nde gözaltına alınan kadınlara işkence yapılıyor iddiası”
5-” Gazetecilerin yargılandığı davada karar çıkmadı; Mart ayına ertelendi”
6-” Hamile ve 3 çocuklu anneyi eşini bulamayınca gözaltına aldılar”
7-” Orhan Pamuk’tan Altanlar ve Ilıcak’a müebbete tepki: Acımasız, haksız ve adaletsiz”
8-” Kürtçe ıslık çalan öğrencilere 27,5 yıl hapis cezası; darp eden polise takipsizlik”
9-” İnternette sansür düzenlemesi Meclis’te kabul edildi”
10-” Af Örgütü: Türkiye’de keyfi ve cezalandırma amaçlı gözaltılarla adil olmayan yargılamalar var”
11-” Tekirdağ’da öğretmen Hizmet Hareketi’nden dolayı tecritte tutuluyor”
12-” Ünlü İşadamları Bankasya’ya para yatırdıkları gerekçesiyle tutuklandı”
13-” Boydaklar için flaş karar!”
14-” Afrin harekatı nedeniyle 786 gözaltı”
15-” Eski HDP’li Milletvekili Ayla Akat Ata gözaltına alındı”
16-” Çuvalda taşınan Muharrem ile ilgili itiraz reddedildi, Dosya AYM’ye gidiyor”
17-” Cezaevindeki engelli gazeteci Cüneyt Arat’tan haber alınamıyor!”
18-” Sağlık sorunlarına rağmen 78 yaşındaki Sise Bingöl tahliye edilmiyor”
19-” Diyarbakır Barosu ve İHD: Özel işkence ekibi kuruldu!”
20-” Türkiye’deki sözde ‘adil’ hukukla 4 çocuk daha anne babasız kaldı”
21-” Kanser hastası 4 gündür Iğdır Emniyeti’nde gözaltında tutuluyor”
22-” Metris’te tutukluyu öldüresiye dövdüler; gardiyanlar görmezden geldi”
23-” Kosovalı akademisyen Zana B.’ye Bylock’tan 15 yıl hapis istemi”
24-” Paylan: RTÜK düzenlemesi ile internette her şeyi yasaklayabilirler”
25-” Antalya, Manisa ve Malatya’da yeni gözaltı ve tutuklamalar”
26-” Akademisyenlerin yargılandığı davada hapis cezası çıktı!”
27-” Kimse Yok Mu Derneği’nin 13 yöneticisine gözaltı”
28-” Türkiye, ‘yolsuzluk endeksi’nde 6 sıra daha geriye gitti”
29-” ‘Yüzlerce Türk çocuk anneleri ile beraber cezaevinde’”
Sentencing over alleged role in failed coup in 2016 condemned as devastating precedent that shows disregard for rule of law.
A Turkish court has sentenced six defendants, including three prominent journalists, to life in prison over allegations of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt, in the first conviction of journalists in trials related to the failed putsch.
The harsh verdict was swiftly condemned by press freedom advocates as a “devastating precedent” that shows “utter disregard for the rule of law” in Turkey.
It came after a months-long trial during which it was alleged that the journalists sent “subliminal messages” via TV appearances and newspaper columns urging the overthrow of the government, and that they maintained contact with members of the Fethullah Gülen network, a movement widely believed in Turkey to have orchestrated the coup attempt.
The verdict constitutes a major defeat for press freedom in the Nato member state, which has cracked down on dissent in the aftermath of the coup. At least 73 journalists remain behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which ranks Turkey the world’s worst jailer of journalists, ahead of China and Egypt.
The journalists sentenced on Friday were the brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, who have been detained since 2016, and Nazlı Ilıcak. The conviction defies an order by Turkey’s highest court to release Mehmet Altan, after it found last month that his imprisonment had violated his constitutional rights.
Sarah Clarke, the policy and advocacy manager for the writers’ association PEN International, tweeted her dismay at the sentences.
Today's verdict & sentences of life without parole for #AhmetAltan, #MehmetAltan & #NazliIlicak mark an apex of the disintegration of the #Ruleoflaw in #Turkey. Judge ignored a binding Turkish Constitutional Court decision. The European Court of Human Rights #ECtHR must act. pic.twitter.com/mH0njuskpu
— Sarah Clarke (@Sarah_M_Clarke) February 16, 2018
The International Press Institute said it was “appalled” by the verdict.
The sentencing came on the same day another Turkish court ordered the release of Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist who spent just over a year in pre-trial detention without an indictment, in a case that tested relations between Ankara and Berlin and highlighted the precarious state of press freedom in Turkey.
A criminal court in Istanbul decided to release Yücel pending a trial after prosecutors said they had completed their investigation into the journalist. The court accepted the indictment filed by prosecutors, who are seeking an 18-year prison sentence over allegations of spreading propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organisation.
The order to release him was confirmed by the state-run Anadolu Agency, the German foreign minister, and Yücel’s lawyer, Veysel Ok, who tweeted a photograph of Yücel embracing his wife after he was freed.
The Die Welt correspondent was detained on 14 February 2017 after going to an Istanbul police station for questioning. He got married in prison and spent months in solitary confinement at Silivri maximum security prison outside Istanbul. He spent 366 days in detention without formal charges.
Yücel’s detention came amid a deep rift in relations between Germany and Turkey. Berlin barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies in Germany with Turkish citizens ahead of a referendum on presidential powers, and condemned growing authoritarianism under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who in turn has condemned rising Islamophobia in Europe. Talks on Turkey’s future membership of the EU have been stalled for years.