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Witness Confirms Gokhan Teacher Tortured to Death by Police

Witness Confirms Gokhan Teacher Tortured to Death by Police

Prison Cellmate Recollects Moments of Horror After Teacher’s Suspicious Death

Two years after his tragic death, details of teacher Gokhan Acikkolu’s last days have emerged and come to public scrutiny once again as one of his prison cellmates offered a harrowing account into the torture claims.

The Turkish public was stunned by revelations over police torture of Acikkolu in summer 2016. The Turkish authorities steadfastly refused torture claims then and stamped out an independent investigation into the tragic incident. In the official account, he died because of health problems presaging his prison days.

But according to his family, and independent observers, Acikkolu was tortured to death. He was brutally beaten and deprived of medical treatment although he suffered a heart attack in prison. Prison administration turned down his family’s quest for transferring him to a hospital for a proper treatment and denied access to most needed medicines for his diabetes. When he was finally brought to a hospital in August 2016, it was too late to save him.

More startling and disturbing was the fact that almost two years after his death, authorities cleared him of coup-related and terrorism charges and restored the now deceased teacher back to his post. It was too little and too late.

How he died in prison still remains a matter of controversy and mystery. The way how the Turkish government handled the case fuels genuine skepticism and suspicion over the official narrative. Almost nobody believes it in Turkey.

And with a former prison cellmate of the deceased teacher now publicly speaking about his last days, the issue has taken a new turn. Journalist Cevheri Guven, living in northern Greece after fleeing the persecution in Turkey, spoke to Bold Medya, divulging details about how police headquarters in Istanbul became the center of torture for people who were taken into custody in the post-coup crackdown.

The Gokhan teacher appears to be the first victim of torture in this notorious place. Guven says that there are more than 15 witnesses who corroborate the claim that Acikkolu was tortured to death.

A teacher, who spoke to Bold Media on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution back in Turkey, was staying in the next cell to Acikkolu’s room. He also suffered torture at the same place, Istanbul Police Department headquarters.

There was a doctor in the witness’ room. He tells Bold Medya that one day there was a chaotic and urgent hurry on the part of policemen who back and forth moved from one place to another in a state of panic in the corridors.

Panic pervaded the atmosphere, and police shouted at one another. At one point, the door of their cell was wide opened. Police fetched the doctor there and urged him to check the situation of Gokhan teacher next room.

The doctor, the witness said, was trembling and his hands were shaking when he returned the room. Police moved Gokhan teacher out. “We lost the friend [Gokhan teacher],” the doctor told other prisoners in the cell.

The account of the witness challenges the prosecutor’s official document about the cause of Acikkolu’s death. The teacher, the prosecutor wrote, died of his diabetes. But the doctor, who, upon the request of police officers, first intervened to help Acikkolu said he died of beating. He appeared to receive fatal blows to his head and died of torture, not diabetes.

Cerebral hemorrhage or heart attack, the doctor said was the probable cause of Acikkolu’s death, the witness told in a new video interview.

Acikkolu was among the tens of thousands of people who had been remanded immediately in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016. He was a history teacher at a public school in Istanbul’s Umraniye district when he, along with his wife, were both dismissed in a sweeping purge campaign.

His death was a particular case that stained public conscience as authorities denied a funeral service for his family. Istanbul Mayor’s Office refused to provide a space in a graveyard, so did the local officials in Acikkolu’s hometown, a village in the central province of Konya. Officials even proposed burying him in the “cemetery of traitors,” a policy briefly introduced as a form of punishment against coup plotters. Facing public criticism, the government later retracted the idea.

The teacher was interrogated neither by a prosecutor nor by the police officials. During his detention, he only faced mistreatment and, according to his family, torture. When his situation deteriorated, he was taken to a hospital, only to be sent back to the police detention.

Guven details how his wife, Mumine Acikkollu, struggled to deliver his medicines in the face of the official ban. After her first visit to custody to see her husband, she detected signs of torture and lodged a petition with the office of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor to investigate whether her husband faced torture. But her efforts yielded no tangible result in the chaotic atmosphere of the post-coup era.

Their agony did not end with the teacher’s death. The inhumane treatment by authorities and denial of funeral service added to their plight.

Two years after into his death, authorities still refuse to launch an investigation into the role of police officers over his death. But as more and more people speak out and more witnesses come out to offer their sides of the story, it becomes ever difficult for authorities to bury the truth and drag their foot for a thorough probe.

Acikkollu might have been the first victim, but certainly was not the last one. As long as his case remains unresolved, police officers and officials, who commit crimes against humanity and involve in torture, would acquire the feeling that they may get away with whatever they do. They should not have such an impunity and freedom.

If Acikkollu’s torturers are brought to justice, other officials would be deterred and further such incidents would be prevented.


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Massive Erosion of Women’s Rights in Turkey

Massive Erosion of Women’s Rights in Turkey

The Turkish government’s oppressive regime relentlessly continues despite all the efforts by the international community. Since 2013, the government has been targeting anti-government groups, mainly the Hizmet Movement, and the situation got worse after the so-called coup attempt in July 15, 2016. The government has no mercy in that even members of vulnerable groups such as women and children are jailed over baseless claims. This document briefly describes the current women’s rights issues in Turkey aiming to provide an overview of the current crisis.

Especially after the attempted coup, the government has been taking dissidents collectively into custody, and then sending them to jail with no solid proof. In some cases, women are arrested and tortured in place of their male family members such as their fathers or husbands. Because of their special needs, women constitute one of the groups that suffer the most from this oppression. Prison overcrowding is another serious problem. Inmates often sleep on the floor or by taking turns. Therefore, it is difficult to claim that prison conditions are suitable for women. Turkey has only a few prisons specifically designed for women, meaning that most female detainees stay in prisons built for men. According to the latest CEDAW report, there are many allegations of sexual harassment and violence amounting to torture and ill treatment in prisons and these claims are not investigated properly. Women in prisons face various types of harassment, for instance, in many prisons, unnecessary and excessively intrusive strip searches are conducted by male personnel, and security cameras placed in rooms–including those in bathrooms–are monitored by male guardians. Detainees have only limited access to personal care and hygiene products, which are often at risk of confiscation during ward searches. Female detainees are trying to make themselves heard by sending out letters, however, these letters do not appear in Turkish press as a result of censorship.

Incarceration during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth is another issue that needs immediate attention. There are many instances where security officials wait at the door of hospital rooms once they are notified of the patients’ registration to the hospital. Patients’ medical conditions are not monitored and they are deprived of essential medication and dietary supplements. Mothers are not allowed to nurse their babies during custody and once they are arrested, their infant babies are also sent to jail. Currently, there are more than 700 children under the age of 6 (including infants) living in prisons.

Violence against women is still an issue despite Turkey’s supposed commitment to end it. As the CEDAW report indicates, relevant laws do not criminalize domestic violence and propose no procedures to prosecute offenders. Because of insufficient protection, many women have either been murdered or sexually harassed and perpetrators are not afraid of prosecution. Honor killings continue to be committed as well, even within well-educated families. More than 100 women have been victims of honor killings since 2010.

Education is another serious problem of Turkish women. The rate of literacy is quite low compared to men (illiteracy is more than five times more prevalent in women than in men), because most families, especially in the east and south-east, do not allow their girls to go to school, but instead force them to marry under the age of 18. For university-educated women, on the other hand, the main problem is the alarming levels of gender inequality at work. Turkey ranks 131st among 144 countries in terms of gender equality.

We briefly touched upon a few of the problems faced by women in Turkey. Many human rights reports have extensively explored the aforementioned problems and others. As the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, we urge every individual and authority to be aware of the worrisome situation of women in Turkey and take necessary steps urgently.


Download as a PDF File: https://silencedturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/MASSIVE-EROSION-OF-WOMEN’S-RIGHTS-IN-TURKEY.pdf

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Erdogan’s Long Arms Abroad and Recommendations to Governments

Is Turkey Turning into a Mafia State?

Evidence from Sudan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Georgia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Mongolia Day by day, Erdogan and his oppressive government are extending their long arms to different countries around the world via the government institutions, intelligence agencies, and affiliated NGOs to expand their witch hunt against the Gulen Movement (aka Hizmet, which means Service in English)-affiliated people. Among their unlawful activities away from Turkey are intensified spying, intelligence gathering and profiling of critics that at times has led to harassment, intimidation and hate crimes. Although a majority of the countries do not pay attention to the unlawful requests of this oppressive leadership, there are some developing countries feel obligated to cooperate with Turkish agencies as they violate significant human rights, fundamental freedoms, and customary international laws.

To name a few, some officers within Sudan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Georgia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine did not hesitate to operate the abductions and deportations of Gulen Movement-affiliated teachers, businessmen, journalists, academicians, and doctors, as well as their family members in some cases. These countries not only violated the UNHCR protection but also international human rights laws and customary international laws. The details of these unlawful abductions and deportations were revealed in a brief report recently released by the Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST). According to the Human Rights Watch, US Report of Religious Freedom, Amnesty International and several international human rights agencies, alleged supporters of the Gulen Movement in Turkey have been subjected to property seizures, arrests, detainments, imprisonments, as well as tortures such as use of stress positions, denial of food and water, detention in unsanitary conditions, in addition to beatings and rapes.

Gulen Movement is a global volunteer movement that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue. Graham Fuller, an expert of the region and vice chair of CIA Intelligence Council, wrote an expert opinion just after the coup attempt entitled “The Gulen Movement Is Not a Cult – It’s One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam Today”.

The President of Turkey, Erdogan, falsely accused the movement of masterminding the coup d’état attempt on July 15th, 2016 and declared the movement as an armed terrorist organization, so-called Fetullahist Terrorist Organization – FETO. Following the staged coup attempt, a significant purge was initiated by the Turkish government and more than 170.000 people were persecuted without any concrete evidence.

However, Erdogan was not satisfied with purging the supporters of Gulen movement in Turkey and expanded its witch hunt against critics to numerous countries in the world with unlawful ways such as bribery, threats, and economic oppressions. Turkish embassies and government agencies including the intelligence services and nongovernmental organizations affiliated with the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have been involved in the profiling and harassment of the movement’s members in varying degree, scope and intensity.

This persecution abroad is personally approved by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who stated that no country in the world will be safe for members of the Gulen Movement, claimed they do not have the right to life and vowed to pursue them wherever they are. His propagandists have even suggested assassinating and abducting critics abroad and have put a bounty on their heads.

The report of AST not only covers the unlawful abductions and deportations but also remind foreign security officers the risks Gulen Movement-affiliated people may face, offer recommendations and point out important points that countries should pay attention to resist possible attempts of the Turkish Government. They request that governments take necessary legal, administrative and practical measures are to ensure the protection of individuals who might be at risk and subject to possible abduction, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings. They make a call on to take counter-measures including legal and other steps to prevent such blatant interference by the Turkish government in their country’s internal affairs and to protect their residents and asylum-seekers from the long arm of Erdogan.


Download as a PDF File: https://silencedturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AST_8-16-18_erdogans-long-arms-abroad-and-recommendations-to-governments_P16.pdf

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Turkey’s New Normal: Torture and Ill-Treatment

Turkey, after the failed coup attempt has been a tumultuous ground for human rights. Many subtopics of human rights violations were brought into the spotlight especially after the declaration of the state of emergency. Perhaps some of the most important derivatives of such violations are torture and maltreatment. Although a state of emergency can help condense and concentrate efforts to bring perpetrators into justice it does not grant the government a blank check to suspend human rights. Even though a delicate matter like suspect and prisoner rights can never be dispensable, Turkey is currently infamous for infringing plenty of them from a global standpoint.

Since the coup attempt in 2016 a hefty sum of 160,00 people were detained 152,000 of which were state officials varying from teachers to lawyers. According to the government’s statement a majority of these detainees were associated with the Gulen movement. Since 2016 an overwhelming 7,907 cases of human rights violations occurred among these were 2,278 victims of torture and within that number 423 of them occurred under police detention. Methods of torture included but were not limited to thumps, electrical chairs, and sexual assault threats (particularly women). In addition, 48 extralegal killings were reported which were deemed tolerable under “troubling” provisions vaguely stated in emergency decree 667.

Besides the aforementioned brutishness, safeguards available to any prisoner were denied by the detainers. Among those violated safeguards were reasonable detention and legal review arrangements, access to medical reports, right to choose a lawyer, and last but not least monitoring the places of detention. Considering the absence of these safeguards combined with the turmoil within cells detainees came to be more vulnerable to mental and physical abuse.

Numerous examples of each different method of torture can be exemplified, whether that is a teacher beaten to death and his autopsy altered (teacher Acikkolu), or a woman tortured remorselessly in front of her husband (Asli S.). The defiling of basic detainee rights is not only tarnishing Turkey’s reputation in the world stage yet it is also obliviously and gradually driving the Turkish government to a dead end.


Download as a PDF File: https://silencedturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/AST_6-22-18_Turkeys-new-normal_P15.pdf

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At Least 3 Victims Drowned While Trying to Cross Meriç/Evros River

Victims of Erdogan’s regime are increasing every day, as there has not been an effective mechanism to prevent him. On February 13, Turkish media reported that Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Organization (AFAD) found the bodies of three, including two children, near the Border between Turkey and Greece.

Eight Turkish nationals, including three children, two women, and three men tried to get to Greece by crossing the Meriç/Evros river using a rubber boat. The rubber boat was capsized, and two children, estimated to be around 11 and 3, and their mother drowned. The names of the dead were identified as Ayşe Söyler Abdurrezzak, and her children Abdulkadir Enes Abdurrezzak (11) and Halil Munir Abdurrezzak (3). The rest of the people that were in the same boat are missing. Ayşe Söyler Abdurrezzak, a 37-year-old teacher, and her husband were dismissed from their job due to crackdowns after the failed coup attempt.

Doğan family was also accompanying the Abdurrezzak family. The members of the family, Fahreddin Doğan, his wife Asli Doğan and their 2.5-year-old son, Ibrahim Selim Doğan are still missing.

Thousands of Turkish families have migrated to Greece from Turkey in recent year. Most of these families are sympathizers of the Gulen Movement. The Turkish government accuses the movement of being behind the 2016 failed-coup attempt. The movement denies alleged involvement.

Since the alleged coup attempt, which President Erdogan defined as a blessing from God, Turkish democracy, and justice have continuously deteriorated every day. More than 150,000 people have been detained and nearly 60,000 people, including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, and people from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention.

In November 2017, Hüseyin Maden, a 40-year-old teacher, who was also dismissed in the crackdown after the failed coup attempt, drowned along with his wife and three children while trying to reach Greek island of Lesvos.

We, as the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, are calling all the international and non-governmental human rights organizations to raise awareness about the drowned Abdurrezzak family and also to take immediate action as regards the problems in Turkey to prevent other families and children from suffering as such. We hope the situation in Turkey will get better for those in Turkey and abroad who are oppressed by the ruling government of Turkey.

Download statement as a PDF: AST_Statement-Abdurrezzak-Family

Download flyer on Abdurrezzak family as a PDF: AST_Flyer_Abdurrezzak family

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AST Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly Feb 12

Download as pdf: AST_Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly_Feb 12

Turkey’s Human Rights Violations | 2/5/2018-2/12/2018

1-“[VIDEO] Pro-Erdogan presenter says Cumhuriyet journalists deserve to be executed for their Afrin coverage”
https://turkeypurge.com/pro-erdogan-presenter-says-cumhuriyet-journalists-deserve-murdered-afrin-coverage

2-“Businessman caught using fake ID to survive post-coup witch-hunt”
https://turkeypurge.com/businessman-caught-using-fake-id-survive-post-coup-witch-hunt

3-“Journalist, already under over coup charges, gets 2.5-year prison sentence for insulting Erdogan”
https://turkeypurge.com/journalist-already-coup-charges-gets-2-5-year-prison-sentence-insulting-erdogan

4-“38,500 prisoners convicted over Gülen links: minister”
https://turkeypurge.com/38500-prisoners-convicted-gulen-links-minister

5-“[VIDEO] Academics, doctors detained while watching Gülen speech”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-academics-doctors-detained-watching-gulen-speech

6-“Turkey issues detention warrant for another pro-Kurdish HDP deputy”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-issues-detention-warrant-another-pro-kurdish-hdp-deputy

7-“Another ‘Gülenist’ dies of heart attack in prison: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/another-gulenist-dies-heart-attack-prison-report

8-“NASA scientist sentenced to 7 years in jail over coup charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/nasa-scientist-sentenced-7-years-jail-coup-charges

9-“Report shows number of rights violations increased during OHAL in Turkey”
https://turkeypurge.com/report-shows-number-rights-violations-increased-ohal-turkey

10-“US ‘deeply concerned’ by conviction of NASA scientist Serkan Golge”
https://turkeypurge.com/us-deeply-concerned-conviction-nasa-scientist-serkan-golge

11-“Warrants issued for 17 former Gazi University staffers: 11 detained”
https://turkeypurge.com/warrants-issued-17-former-gazi-university-staffers-11-detained

12-“Wives of 13 dismissed police officers under custody”
https://turkeypurge.com/wives-13-dismissed-police-officers-custody

13-“[VIDEO] Former law faculty dean detained over Gülen links”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-former-law-faculty-dean-detained-gulen-links

14-“University student jailed for insulting Erdogan two years ago”
https://turkeypurge.com/university-student-jailed-insulting-erdogan-two-years-ago

15-“European Parliament urges Turkey to end post-coup emergency rule”
https://turkeypurge.com/european-parliament-urges-turkey-end-post-coup-emergency-rule

16-“Turkey to confiscate billion-dollar holding over coup charges: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-confiscate-billion-dollar-holding-coup-charges-report

17-“Teacher couple detained after speaking out during interview by Finland’s state broadcaster”
https://turkeypurge.com/teacher-couple-detained-interview-finnish-state-broadcaster-yle

18-“Turkish prisons at 13 percent overcapacity: lawmaker”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-prisons-13-percent-overcapacity-lawmaker

19-“Books, magazines by anti-gov’t Furkan foundation seized as criminal evidence”
https://turkeypurge.com/books-magazines-anti-govt-furkan-foundation-seized-criminal-evidence

20-“Journalist Cem Bahtiyar jailed pending trial over terror charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/journalist-cem-bahtiyar-jailed-pending-trial-terror-charges

21-“Enes Kanter faces 4 years in jail for ‘insulting’ Turkish basketball federation head”
https://turkeypurge.com/enes-kanter-faces-4-years-jail-insulting-turkish-basketball-federation-head

22-“Erzurum tea house temporarily closed over Kurdish-language song”
https://turkeypurge.com/erzurum-tea-house-temporarily-closed-kurdish-language-song

23-“Chemistry teacher gets 10-year jail time over Gulen links”
https://turkeypurge.com/chemistry-teacher-gets-10-year-jail-time-gulen-links

24-“64 military academy students, officers sentenced to life in prison over coup charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/64-military-academy-students-officers-sentenced-life-prison-coup-charges

25-“Vision-impaired journalist, under arrest for 7 months, denied access to Braille books in prison”
https://turkeypurge.com/vision-impaired-journalist-arrest-6-months-denied-access-braille-books-prison

26-“Turkish LGBT activist goes on hunger strike in support of transgender woman jailed in Tekirdağ”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-lgbt-activist-goes-hunger-strike-support-transgender-woman-jailed-tekirdag

27-“Turkish activist detained in southeast Turkey: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-activist-detained-southeast-turkey-report

28-“Labour Party Bursa head put in pre-trial detention: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/labour-party-bursa-head-put-pre-trial-detention-report

29-“Video purportedly shows Turkish soldiers beat Kurdish villager in Afrin”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-purportedly-shows-turkish-soldiers-beat-kurdish-villager-afrin

30-“Dear Osman, dear Ahmet, dear Selahattin – speech in EP Plenary, Joint debate Turkey”
https://silencedturkey.org/kati-piris-speech-in-ep-plenary-joint-debate-on-turkey

31-“US Politician Margo Davidson Reflects On Her Visit To Turkish Refugees In Greece”
https://stockholmcf.org/us-politician-margo-davidson-reflects-on-her-visit-to-turkish-refugees-in-greece/

32-“Survey: 1,2 Million People Victimised By Emergency Rule In Turkey”
https://stockholmcf.org/survey-12-million-people-victimised-by-emergency-rule-in-turkey-2/

33-“US Consulate Hands Staff Member Over To Turkish Authorities”
https://stockholmcf.org/us-consulate-hands-staff-member-over-to-turkish-authorities/

34-“İstanbul’s Former Governor Mutlu Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison Over Gülen Links”
https://stockholmcf.org/istanbuls-former-governor-mutlu-sentenced-to-3-years-in-prison-over-gulen-links/

35-“Female Journalists Say Turkish Police Beat Them, Threatened Rape During Raid”
https://stockholmcf.org/female-journalists-say-turkish-police-beat-them-threatened-rape-during-raid/

36-“Religious Group Leader Critical Of Turkish Government Put In Pretrial Detention”
https://stockholmcf.org/religious-group-leader-critical-of-turkish-government-put-in-pretrial-detention/

37-“No Freedom Of Speech In Turkey Even For The Robots”
https://stockholmcf.org/no-freedom-of-speech-in-turkey-even-for-the-robots/

38-“European Parliament Strongly Condemns Human Rights Violations In Turkey”
https://stockholmcf.org/european-parliament-strongly-condemns-human-rights-violations-in-turkey/

39-“Turkish Gov’t Detains Dozens, Including Former Top Judiciary Official, Over Alleged Links To Gülen Movement”
https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-govt-detains-dozens-including-former-top-judiciary-official-over-alleged-links-to-gulen-movement/

40-“Only 1 released in trial of jailed journalists facing coup charges”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/02/06/only-1-released-in-trial-of-jailed-journalists-facing-coup-charges/

Türkiye tarafından işlenenen İnsan Hakları İhlalleri | 2/5/2018-2/12/2018

1-“Cezaevlerinde taciz edilen de var, banyosuna kamera yerleştirilen de”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/cezaevlerinde-taciz-edilen-de-var-banyosuna-kamera-yerlestirilen-de-h111981.html

2-“AKP rejimi tutuklu ‘Verem’ hastasına raporlara rağmen ilaç vermiyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/akp-rejimi-tutuklu-verem-hastasina-raporlara-ragmen-ilac-vermiyor-h111909.html

3-“Ümit Horzum ve diğer kaçırılanlara ne oldu?”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/umit-horzum-ve-diger-kacirilanlara-ne-oldu-h111887.html

4-“UNICEF: 2018’in ilk ayında Suriye’de en az 60 çocuk öldürüldü”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/unicef-2018in-ilk-ayinda-suriyede-en-az-60-cocuk-olduruldu-h111795.html

5-“AİHM’den Cizre savunması talebine AKP yönetiminden skandal cevap!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/aihmden-cizre-savunmasi-talebine-akp-yonetiminden-skandal-cevap-h111772.html

6-“TEM’de bebekler ve anneler çok kötü şartlarda gözaltında tutuluyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/temde-bebekler-ve-anneler-cok-kotu-sartlarda-gozaltinda-tutuluyor-h111732.html

7-“Hak ihlalleri son 13 yılda yüzde 571 arttı”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/hak-ihlalleri-son-13-yilda-yuzde-571-artti-h112049.html

8-“AYM, Avukata ceza veren mahkemenin hak ihlalinde bulunduğunu açıkladı”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/aym-avukata-ceza-veren-mahkemenin-hak-ihlalinde-bulundugunu-acikladi-h112013.html

9-“Cep telefonunda Gülen’in videolarını izlediği gerekçesiyle gözaltı”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/cep-telefonunda-gulenin-videolarini-izledigi-gerekcesiyle-gozalti-h112008.html

10-“Tutuklu kadın gazeteci Hanım Büşra Erdal için destek mektubu var”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/tutuklu-kadin-gazeteci-hanim-busra-erdal-icin-destek-mektubu-var-h112002.html

11-“Erdoğan rejiminin yatırımları: 140 yeni hapishane yapılıyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/erdogan-rejiminin-yatirimlari-140-yeni-hapishane-yapiliyor-h111927.html

12-“Skandal karar! Polis genç kadına tecavüz etti mahkeme beraat kararı verdi”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/skandal-karar-polis-genc-kadina-tecavuz-etti-mahkeme-beraat-karari-verdi-h111917.html

13-“Alparslan Kuytul, adliyeye sevk edildi; binlerce gönüllü bekliyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/alparslan-kuytul-adliyeye-sevk-edildi-binlerce-gonullu-bekliyor-h111901.html

14-“Erdoğan’a hakaretten üniversite öğrencisi tutuklandı”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/erdogana-hakaretten-universite-ogrencisi-tutuklandi-h111875.html

15-“Oxfam açıkladı: Binlerce kişi sınırda mahsur kaldı, ÖSO haraç alıyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/oxfam-acikladi-binlerce-kisi-sinirda-mahsur-kaldi-oso-harac-aliyor-h111789.html

16-“AKP rejimi Furkan Vakfı’nın temsilciliklerini bir gecede mühürledi!”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/akp-rejimi-furkan-vakfinin-temsilciliklerini-bir-gecede-muhurledi-h111784.html

17-“Alperen Ocakları’nın LGBTİ’leri tehdidi ‘ifade özgürlüğü’ sayıldı”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/alperen-ocaklarinin-lgbtileri-tehdidi-ifade-ozgurlugu-sayildi/

18-“Çocuk tacizcisi polise 40 yıl hapis cezası”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/cocuk-tacizcisi-polise-40-yil-hapis-cezasi/

19-“Cezaevlerinde hak ihlalleri raporu: Ters kelepçe, cinsel taciz…”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/cezaevlerinde-hak-ihlalleri-raporu-ters-kelepce-cinsel-taciz/

20-“Cemaat’ten 40 bin, PKK’dan 10 bin, IŞİD’den bin kişi içerde”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/cezaevinde-kalamaz-raporuna-karsin-tahliye-edilmeyen-mahkum-yasamini-yitirdi-h111653.html

21-“NASA çalışanı ABD vatandaşı Serkan Gölge’ye 8 yıl hapis cezası”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/nasa-calisani-abd-vatandasi-golgeye-8-yil-hapis-cezasi/

22-“‘Afrin’de tüm hastaneler dolu, ilaçlar tükenmek üzere’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/afrinde-tum-hastaneler-dolu-ilaclar-tukenmek-uzere/

23-“Firari Hukuk Fakültesi Dekanı Prof. Şen yakalandı, tutuklandı”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/firari-hukuk-fakultesi-dekani-prof-sen-yakalandi-tutuklandi/

24-“Cumhuriyet çalışanlarını ‘katletmek’ mübah mıdır?”
http://www.diken.com.tr/cumhuriyet-calisanlarini-katletmek-mubah-midir/

25-“Oxford’da öğretim üyeliği: Murat Belge ‘Risk Altındaki Akademisyenler Konseyi’ne başvurdu”
http://www.diken.com.tr/oxfordda-ogretim-uyeligi-murat-belge-risk-altindaki-akademisyenler-konseyine-basvurdu/

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Critical Speech by Kati Piri Delivered in European Parliament Plenary, Joint Debate on Turkey

Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, the government of Turkey has taken strict measures to silence dissidents from various ideologies both within and outside of its borders. The state of emergency, which was recently extended for the fifth time, and decree laws pave the way for discrimination and segregation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and political or other opinions. Unfortunately, all the dissident groups have received their shares from the government’s purge.

One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement (a.k.a “Hizmet Movement”, meaning service in Turkish), has been the main target since 2013. The Gulen Movement is a faith-based non-political movement focusing on cultural and educational activities. It is composed of a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations inspired by a Turkish scholar, Fethullah Gulen.

Other opposition groups have also been targeted. Especially, Kurdish and Alevi people have been oppressed significantly. For instance, Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish political party – Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is still in prison. Moreover, Osman Kavala, one of the most significant civil society activists working to mend the relationship between Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian people and a businessman sponsoring Amnesty International, is also yet under arrest for alleged ties to the Hizmet Movement.

Since the July 15 failed coup attempt, President Erdogan and the government have been accusing Fethullah Gulen and his sympathizers to have connections with the failed coup. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement with the attempted coup. Foreign intelligence units such as Germany’s BND Foreign Intelligence Agency’s chief, EU intelligence-sharing unit (Intern), UK Parliament and US House Intel Chair have all noted that there is no concrete evidence indicating Mr. Gulen’s involvement. Nonetheless, Gulen spoke to global media outlets right after the coup attempt and condemned any effort against democracy. He called for an open international investigation to find out who was behind the coup attempt.

Yet, the Turkish government chose to declare state of emergency, which still continues as of February 2018, to purge thousands of people. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. After the failed coup, more than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily detained, and almost 65,000 people have been arrested. Most of them belong to the elite part of the society and are well-educated individuals with different backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. What is striking is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity. As two of the most vulnerable groups, women and children were affected a lot too. 17,000 women and 1914 children, where 688 are babies under age of six, are still in prison under inhuman conditions. There have also been several cases where women with their few days old babies were put in prison just after giving birth. Moreover, more than 4,400 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed indicating around one-third of all judiciary. The government has also shut down 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities as well as confiscated more than 800 companies worth more than $10 billion, all were founded and owned by dissidents – mostly by the supporters of the Movement.

Kati Piri, member of the European Parliament, has been one of the most concerned individuals regarding the grave situation in Turkey. She has been working on Turkey’s EU membership process as Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament. She recently gave a crucial speech talking about the ongoing events in Turkey.

Below you can find Kati Piri’s speech delivered on February 7, 2018:

“Dear Osman, dear Ahmet, dear Selahattin,

At the moment that Turkey is going through a difficult period, it needs brave people like you to stand up for human rights and the respect for rule of law. But for having done exactly that, you are now in a prison cell behind bars. While you cannot follow this debate, I hope your lawyers and family will inform you that we have not forgotten you! And we will continue to plea for your release as your arrests are politicized and arbitrary.

Osman Kavala, Ahmet Şik and Selehattin Demirtas are not the only innocent persons in jail in Turkey. While the perpetrators of the heinous coup attempt must be prosecuted and brought to justice, so many people became victims of the massive crackdown on all democratic opposition voices. The numbers are mind-boggling – more than 150.000 people fired and over 50.000 imprisoned. But remember that all these people have a face, have a family, have friends who are hoping that a normalization is still possible.

The state of emergency has led to a situation that the government can rule by decree – without parliamentary or judicial scrutiny. Every aspect in Turkish society has become securitized – meaning, that all who voice criticism against the government’s’ policies, are being labelled as terrorist or terrorism supporters. With that, legitimate and peaceful opposition is being silenced – in real life and on social media. Last two weeks, almost 500 people were detained for peacefully opposing Turkey’s military operation in Afrin.

There is also a structural problem with the lack of independence of the judiciary. And how big that problem is, we could witness last month. First there was a ruling by the Constitutional Court in Turkey to release jailed journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay, as their rights had been violated. And although the highest court’s orders were crystal clear, a local penal court decided to keep them in detention.

Last week, we could witness another travesty of justice. The wife and daughters of Turkey’s Amnesty International Chair were waiting in front of the gates of the prison in Izmir to welcome their loved one into their arms after an 8-month imprisonment. A judge had ruled earlier that day for his release on bail. But within a couple of hours, the same judge changed his mind and ordered his re-arrest. And for all those people who have lost their jobs by decree, there is so far little hope for remedy. From one day to another, they have been labeled as terrorists and therewith socially excluded.

High Representative Mogherini, the EU is preparing a mini-Summit with Turkish President Erdogan at the end of March. We could read in the papers that no preconditions have been put on the table. But I hope you can tell us what you expect as results from such a meeting. We, in the Parliament, expect the EU to be loud and clear on human rights in Turkey. Not only because these are the values that our Union is based upon, and Turkey as a candidate should adhere to them. But also because we risk losing credibility and support by a majority of Turkish society if we don’t stand up for their rights in these dark times.”

As the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, we agree Kati Piri’s points, and we call the Turkish government to put an end to these arbitrary and unacceptable applications. We would like to remind the government its responsibilities under the international human rights law and ask to comply with the human rights standards accepted worldwide.

Watch the speech: https://silencedturkey.org/kati-piris-speech-in-ep-plenary-joint-debate-on-turkey


Download as a PDF File: AST_2-7-2018_Kati-Piris-speech-in-EP-Plenary-Turkey-P11

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Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay should be immediately released

Amnesty International Orange County:

On January 11, 2018, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled in a criminal case that Mehmet Altan and fellow journalist Sahin Alpay’s rights were being violated by pre-trial detention and ruled that they should be released, nut the 27th High Criminal Court in Istanbul declined to implement the Constitutional Court decision.

Following the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, and the imposition of a state of emergency, over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree. There are now at least 148 writers, journalists, and media workers in prison, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

Prof. Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay are only two of the hundreds of victims of this horrific violation of democratic values and principles within Turkey.

Mehmet Altan, the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University since 1986, was also a journalist working in the daily Sabah (1987-2006) and worked as an editor-in-chief in the daily Star until 2012. He has been dismissed from his newspaper because of the government’s pressures on free media.

Sahin Alpay, faculty in Bahcesehir University since 2001, was arrested in 2016. He worked as a writer and editor for Cumhuriyet, Sabah, and Milliyet Newspapers. He directed the “Intellectual Perspective” a weekly program at Turkish CNN and he was a columnist at the now closed-down Zaman Newspaper. He also hosted a program, which aired on the now closed-down Mehtap TV channel.

In September 2016, Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay were detained as part of a wave of arrests of thinkers and writers following the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Arrested for allegedly giving “subliminal messages” to announce the coup on a television roundtable discussion show, Mr. Altan was charged with attempting to overthrow the “constitutional order”, “interfering with the work of the national assembly”, and “interfering with the work of the government” through violence or force.

Amnesty Orange County call the authorities in Turkey to respect and implement the ruling of the Turkish Constitutional Court for Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay to be released immediately alongside all the other journalists and writers, including Mehmet Altan’s brother Ahmet Altan who is also among the incarcerated writers and journalists.

We urge everyone to take action. Please sign the petition linked below: https://www.change.org/p/turkey-mehmet-altan-and-sahin-alpay-should-be-immediately-released?recruiter=841476427&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

This petition will be delivered to:
Turkey Consulate of Turkey in Los Angeles
Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C.
TURKEY MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

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Severity of Human Rights Violations in Turkey & Support to Turkish Migrants and Refugees

Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, the government of Turkey has been taking strict measures to silence dissidents in other countries from various ideologies recently. One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement (a.k.a “Hizmet Movement”, meaning service in Turkish), has been the main target since 2013. The Gulen Movement is a faith-based non-political, cultural and educational movement. The Movement is composed of a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations inspired by Fethullah Gulen.

After the July 15 failed coup attempt, the Turkish government accused Fethullah Gulen and his sympathizers for having a connection with the failed coup. Gulen has repeatedly dismissed any involvement in the coup attempt. Foreign intelligence units such as Germany’s BND Foreign Intelligence Agency’s chief, EU intelligence-sharing unit (Intern), UK Parliament and U.S. House Intel Chair have all noted that there is no evidence that shows Gulen’s involvement. Nonetheless, Gulen spoke to global media outlets right after the coup attempt and called for an open international investigation to find out who was behind the attempt.

Yet, the Turkish government chose to declare state of emergency, which still continues, to purge thousands of people. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. After the failed coup, more than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily detained and more than 60,000 people have been arrested. Most of them are from the elite part of the society and are all well-educated individuals with different backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. The striking point is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity. Nonetheless, there are 17,000 women in jail and 1914 children, where 688 are babies under age of six. There have also been several cases where women who just gave birth have been put in prison with their few days old babies. Moreover, more than 4,400 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed. The government has also seized 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities. The government has also confiscated more than 800 companies worth more than $10 billion.

All independent media in Turkey have been shut down and confiscated by the government. Turkey is the leading country to imprison most journalists. Turkey has arrested 319 journalists since the coup. A lot of people are arrested for talking against government’s policies. Many students get imprisoned for their critical tweets. 70 thousand students are currently in jail in Turkey.

People are also arrested for having downloaded an encrypted messaging phone application called ByLock. The government believes coup plotters used this application. The Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT) has handed over a list of people who have allegedly downloaded the application. People who are alleged of downloading the application have been imprisoned. Prof. Izzet Özgenç, who is one of the founders of the Turkish Penal Code, emphasized that the Bylock arrests made without revealing any evidence are unlawful. Recently, Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that close to 11 thousand people have been mistakenly investigated for use of ByLock. Turkey has also put the Amnesty International’s Turkey head, Taner Kiliç in jail for having downloaded block. While Kiliç claims that he has never downloaded the application, he is facing imprisonment for up to 15 years.

International human rights organizations have condemned and reported the human rights violations occurring in Turkey. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the winner of ‘Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press’ and ‘Most Thin-skinned’ awards. A new report released by the independent, non-profit and non-partisan watchdog organization Freedom House concluded that democratic principles such as election integrity and freedom of the press, political and civil rights have severely downgraded in Turkey that is no longer ‘a free country’. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in its recent “World Report 2018” that innocent people are imprisoned with no substantial evidence, inalienable rights have been taken away, and that there are more than 2,200 cases of torture and ill-treatment. Hugh Williamson, Europe, and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said that “everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded”.

Due to increasingly severe human rights violations in Turkey, families have chosen to leave their country to seek safe haven. Many families have sought to enter Europe to seek asylum due to geographical proximity. However, there are also thousands of people who have also successfully reached and sought asylum in the United States. Unfortunately not everyone successfully reaches Europe. On November 21, 2017, Greek media reported that Greek authorities have found bodies of five members of the Maden family, including three children, a short time ago on the Greek Island of Lesvos. The father, Huseyin Maden, and mother, Nur Maden, were allegedly linked to the Gulen Movement and was forced to flee due to arrest warrant issued out on their names. The drowning has sparked outrage over an ongoing political purge.

Regrettably, Turkish government’s actions against the Gulen Movement are not limited to Turkish borders but are also extraterritorial. There are many examples of abductions and physical violence incidents in several countries as well as threats by pro-government people referring to the supporters abroad. Recently some Turkish teachers and principles who worked at schools funded by the Gulen Movement in Malaysia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been abducted, and in some cases illegally deported back to Turkey.

Families who have successfully reached the United States by escaping the oppression of the Turkish government are now facing new challenges. Most of the families have left everything behind in Turkey; jobs, houses, education, relatives and the Turkish government have blocked their bank accounts. Some families were able to only bring a single luggage.

These families are now in need of shelter, financial support, and acceptance of their asylum applications. You could help by personally providing donations to these individuals, or donate through human rights organizations like Embrace Relief or Advocates of Silenced Turkey, who focuses on these Turkish nationals. You could also help with helping them attain legal help and cover legal fees for their asylum applications, with their education fees. Some other ways you can help is by sending support letters regarding the persecution of these Gulen sympathizers to relevant bodies such as the State Department, embassies and the European Court of Human Rights. You can also create awareness using social media and encourage other human rights and humanitarian aid organizations to create campaigns on behalf of these individuals. Given their circumstance, we hope that you can help these people through your support. Every bit of help will aggregate to make a big difference.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_SEVERITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY & SUPPORT TO TURKISH MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES_P9

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How The Supporters Of The Hizmet Movement Suffer From Persecutions By The Turkish Government?

Introduction

The Turkish government’s oppressive regime and strict measures against dissidents, especially the Hizmet Movement, have created a new group of people seeking asylum around the world. This paper includes many statements from various organizations and experts on the current situation in Turkey in terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Hence, this study aims to shed light on how the authorities are expected to react towards asylum cases from Turkish applicants citing the risk of persecution based on their links with the Hizmet Movement.

1. Situation in Turkey in terms of Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Rule of Law and Democracy

1.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Turkey’s status declined from Partly Free to Not Free, its political rights rating declined from 4 to 5, and its civil liberties rating declines from 5 to 6 due to a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.

Constitutional revisions that concentrated power in the presidency were adopted in an April referendum. The campaign featured a grossly uneven playing field, and last-minute changes to the criteria for validating ballots—made in contravention of the law—undermined the legitimacy of the vote count.

The fear of arbitrary arrest stifled public discussion and weakened civil society.

1.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Many decrees adopted contained measures that undermine human rights safeguards and conflict with Turkey’s international human rights obligations.

In January, the government ruled on the establishment of an ad hoc commission to review decisions made under the state of emergency. The commission lacks independence since its seven members are appointed by the same authorities responsible for approving dismissals and closures. … In the meantime, those affected have no right to work in public service, their bank accounts are frozen, and passports confiscated.

Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists and media workers as they face criminal investigations and trials, with around 150 behind bars at time of writing. Most newspapers and television channels lack independence and promote the government’s political line.

There were widespread reports of police beating detainees, subjecting them to prolonged stress positions and threats of rape, threats to lawyers, and interference with medical examinations.

1.3. United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on his mission to Turkey, 7 June 2017

The state of emergency decrees adopted in the aftermath of the coup attempt are far-reaching and give authorities wide discretionary powers to derogate from human rights obligations, without providing adequate channels for judicial review and appeal.

The Government is obligated to ensure that any restriction on freedom of expression during the state of emergency is strictly proportionate to the exigency of the situation. The tests of necessity and proportionality are not suspended during a period of derogation linked with a state of emergency.

1.4. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2016/17, 21 February 2017

Freedom of expression deteriorated sharply during the year. After the declaration of a state of emergency, 118 journalists were remanded in pre-trial detention and 184 media outlets were arbitrarily and permanently closed down under executive decrees, leaving opposition media severely restricted. People expressing dissent, especially in relation to the Kurdish issue, were subjected to threats of violence and criminal prosecution. Internet censorship increased. At least 375 NGOs, including women’s rights groups, lawyers’ associations and humanitarian organizations, were shut by executive decree in November.

After July, the authorities used state of emergency laws to issue blanket bans preventing demonstrations in cities across Turkey. [P]olice used excessive force against people attempting to exercise the right to freedom of peaceful assembly regardless of the bans.

The state of emergency removed protections for detainees and allowed previously banned practices, which helped facilitate torture and other ill-treatment: the maximum pre-charge detention period was increased from four to 30 days; and facilities to block detainees’ access to lawyers in pre-charge detention for five days, and to record conversations between client and lawyer in pre-trial detention and pass them to prosecutors were introduced. Detainees’ access to lawyers and the right to consult with their choice of lawyers – rather than state-provided lawyers – was further restricted. Medical examinations were carried out in the presence of police officers and the reports arbitrarily denied to detainees’ lawyers.

Widespread torture and other ill-treatment of suspects accused of taking part in the coup attempt was reported in its immediate aftermath. In July, severe beatings, sexual assault, threats of rape and cases of rape were reported, as thousands were detained in official and unofficial police detention. Military officers appeared to be targeted for the worst physical abuse but holding detainees in stress positions and keeping them handcuffed behind their backs, and denying them adequate food and water or toilet breaks were reported to have taken place on a far wider scale. Lawyers and detainees’ relatives were often not informed that individuals had been detained until they were brought for charge.

1.5. Amnesty International, Annual Report 2015/16, 24 February 2016

Politically motivated appointments and transfers of judges and prosecutors continued throughout the year, wreaking havoc on a judiciary already lacking independence and impartiality. Criminal Courts of Peace – with jurisdiction over the conduct of criminal investigations, such as pre-charge detention and pre-trial detention decisions, seizure of property and appeals against these decisions – came under increasing government control.

1.6. Hugh Williams, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, 18 January 2018

Everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded. The move to a presidential system, the ongoing state of emergency, and charges against opposition lawmakers have all weakened parliament, the courts are under ever tighter government control, and the crackdown on media and civil society deepens.

1.7. Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights (former), 7 October 2016

The decrees have introduced sweeping measures affecting, among others, civil society, municipalities, private schools, universities and medical establishments, legal professionals, media, business and finance, as well as the family members of suspects…. [T]he series of emergency decrees adopted in Turkey since July created very far-reaching, almost unlimited discretionary powers for administrative authorities and the executive in any areas, by derogation from general principles of rule of law and human rights safeguards ordinarily applicable in a democratic society.

Turkish authorities should immediately start repealing the emergency decrees, starting with the provisions which allow the highest degrees of arbitrariness in their application and stray the widest from ordinary guarantees.

1.8. British Legal Experts Lord Woolf, Sir Jeffrey Jowell, Sir Edward Garnier, July 2015

Since December 2013, the government has taken unprecedented steps to exert executive control over Turkey’s judiciary, to interfere with and derail the corruption investigation, to stifle criticism in the media and on the internet. The government has brought the main institution responsible for the judiciary, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, under its control by purging its members of anyone suspected of opposing the AKP government.

1.9. Riza Turmen, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (former)

Turkey has a serious regime problem; it is not a democracy – you can probably call it ‘elected authoritarianism.’ It is a majoritarian and hegemonic system.

2. Persecutions that the Supporters of the Hizmet Movement Face

2.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Using emergency powers and vaguely worded terrorism laws, the authorities had suspended or dismissed more than 110,000 people from public-sector positions and arrested more than 60,000 others by year’s end. Extensive use of pretrial detention meant that many suspects were held behind bars for long periods without due process. There was increasing evidence of extrajudicial “disappearances” and routine torture of political detainees.

2.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Hundreds of media outlets, associations, foundations, private hospitals, and educational establishments that the government shut down by decree remained closed in 2017, their assets confiscated without compensation.

2.3. Amnesty International, No End in Sight: Purged Public Sector Workers Denied a Future in Turkey, 22 May 2017

[D]ecrees include similarly vague and non-individualized references to their connection to (unspecified) terrorist organizations or threat to national security. Nor has any individualized evidence been presented in the few examples of written decisions carried out under the authority of the decrees.

The government decrees also require their passports to be cancelled, preventing them from leaving the country. Others, along with their families, have lost housing and health care benefits provided through their jobs. Many have lost not only their jobs but the ability to carry on their professions, even in the private sector. After being tainted as “terrorists” through their dismissal, many have not been able to find work at all, inhibiting their right to work and their right to an adequate standard of living in the long term.

No individualized justification or evidence for the dismissal of public sector employees has been provided in the decrees or in subsequent administrative decisions made under the authority of the decrees. Neither have dismissed public sector employees been able to obtain information about the grounds for their dismissal either before or following their dismissal, beyond the vague generalized criteria of links to a terrorist organization or threat to national security. … Among the reasons advanced by dismissed public sector employees and their supporters, are people’s actual or perceived opposition to the ruling AK Party government, union activism, and local score-settling.

It remains uncertain for example whether dismissed individuals will be able to claim their full pension rights resulting from their years of service in the public sector. What is clear and stated explicitly in the decrees, is that in addition to being dismissed from their employment, they are expelled from all forms of public service. Given the broad interpretation of public service in Turkey, in many cases this means that dismissed people are effectively banned from continuing their professions.

All of the people Amnesty International spoke to were either living off their savings, being assisted by friends or family, doing jobs such as cleaning in the irregular economy, or surviving on the minimal amount paid to dismissed workers who are members of trade unions. None of the people interviewed believed that they could survive in the long term under these circumstances.

The fact that lists of dismissed people have been published in the decrees and on the internet, and form part of a person’s record, visible to state institutions and the public at large has led to additional pressures on them and their families.

2.4. United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, 3 March 2017

Other human rights problems included prison overcrowding compounded by the influx of tens of thousands of new prisoners after the coup attempt. The government fired more than 3,000 members of the judiciary, creating an atmosphere of fear that further limited judicial independence and complicated or delayed court proceedings.

The vast majority were accused of ties to the Gulen movement, as opposed to direct participation in the coup attempt itself. Under the state of emergency, detainees could be held without charge for up to 30 days. There were numerous accounts of persons waiting beyond 30 days to be formally charged.

The suspension, detention, firing, and freezing of personal assets of more than 3,000 members of the judiciary after the July 15 coup attempt (representing about 22 percent of the total) accused of affiliation with the Gulen movement had a chilling effect on judicial independence.

After the July 15 coup attempt, the government seized hundreds of businesses and an estimated 15 billion lira ($4 billion) in assets from alleged members of the Gulen movement.

After the coup attempt, the government targeted family members to exert pressure on some wanted suspects. Under the state of emergency, the government cancelled the passports of family members of civil servants suspended from work as well as of those who had fled authorities. In some cases, the government cancelled or refused to issue passports for the minor children of accused Gulenists who were outside the country, forcing family separation.

3. Approaches of Other Foreign Government Towards Asylum Cases from Turkish Applicants Citing the Risk of Persecution based on Their Links with the Hizmet Movement

3.1. Norway, Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, 12 October 2017

[A] generally worsening human rights situation in that country have led to a new group of applicants seeking protection in Norway. These are persons who cite the risk of persecution based on links, or alleged links, to the Fethullah Gülen network/ movement. … These applicants can risk arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction and will be entitled to protection … and that in some cases also family members of active Gülen affiliates may be entitled to protection. … The majority who have sought protection in Norway to date have been professors at, or have some other professional connections to, the Gülen schools and colleges at home and abroad.

[A]pplicants with credible indications of involvement within the Gülen movement, or applicants who can show that the domestic authorities in their country of origin have alleged such involvement, and where the actual or alleged involvement may trigger persecution by the authorities, shall be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act. … Referral to internal displacement will not be applicable, since the Turkish authorities control the whole country.

3.2. Canada, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 29 September 2016

[I]nstead of targeting Gulen’s followers who “engaged in genuine criminal activity or abuse of power …” the AKP prosecutors targeted “journalists, businesspeople and academics who appear to be guilty of little more than sympathy for Gulen’s publicly expressed calls for moderation, non-violence and interfaith dialogue.

3.3. United Kingdom, Home Office Country Policy and Information Note, Turkey: Gulenism, April 2017

As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm from the state, they will not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities. … As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm at the hands of the state, they will not be able to internally relocate to escape that risk. … Where a claim is refused, it is unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded.’

Overall Evaluation

In the light of all this information and comments, we ask governments, law enforcement officers and security officers to be aware of the risks that the supporters of the Movement may face when they return to their home countries. The Hizmet Movement is known to be promoting non-violence, inter-faith dialogue and education. Members of the Movement have not engaged any violent/criminal activity so far representing a moderate understanding of Islam. Therefore, existence of the Movement is important for the whole world to diminish radicalism where radicals have been creating disasters around the world. We request authorities to consider all these while taking action and speed up the asylum processes as much as possible since these people need immediate help.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_HOW-THE-SUPPORTERS-OF-THE-HIZMET-MOVEMENT-SUFFER-FROM-PERSECUTIONS-BY-THE-TURKISH-GOVERNMENT_P8

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