Lawyers Didem Ünsal, Aytaç Ünsal, Ahmet Mandacı, Yağmur Ereren, Barkın Timtik, Ebru Timtik, Şükriye Erden, Engin Gökoğlu, Ezgi Çakır, Süleyman Gökten, Ozgur Yılmaz, Oya Aslan, Ayşegül Çağatay, Behiç Aşçı, Aycan Çiçek, Günay Dağ, Zehra Özdemir, Özgür Yılmaz who are the members of People’s Law Office (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu) and Umut Law Office were taken into custody with police raid this morning (12/9/2017). With this last wave of crackdown against lawyers, number of lawyers under criminal prosecution raised to 1343; 524 of them have been arrested.
Lawyer Ozgur YILMAZ who is member of Umut Law Office, was taken into custody with torture in Istanbul.
The 18 lawyers taken into custody have been representing the arrested hunger strike activists Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca. Gulmen and Ozakca who were arrested on 23rd May 2017, will be on trial in Ankara two days later.
Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca have started a hunger strike after got dismissed with a emergency decree and are on hunger strike for more than 180 days. They were arrested on 23rd May 2017 to prevent growing interest of the public about their hunger strike. 18 lawyers taken into custody would represent them on the hearing dated 14th September 2017.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected the request regarding to rule to release of Gulmen and Ozakca on 2nd August 2017. The ECHR ruled that the detention of academic Gulmen and primary school teacher Semih Ozakca “did not pose a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to the life of the applicants” and also urged them to end the hunger strike and trust the Turkish state.
Situation in Turkey
There has been a relentless campaign of arrests which has targeted fellow lawyers across the country. In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained and arrested on trumped-up charges as part of criminal investigations orchestrated by the political authorities and conducted by provincial public prosecutors.
14 of detained or arrested lawyers are the presidents or former presidents of provincial bars associations.
So far; Erzincan 2nd High Penal Court sentenced lawyers Cemalettin Ozer and Talip Nayir who are (respectively) former president of Erzincan Bar Association and former board member of association 8 years 9 month and 10 years and Eskisehir 2nd High Penal Court sentenced 11 lawyers to range 4 to 12 years imprisonment.
All persecuted lawyers are being charged with terror linked offences such as being member of armed terrorist organisation or to run armed terrorist organisation. Pursuant to Turkish Penal Code, these two offences require 7,5 to 22,5 years imprisonment.
In addition to these lawyers, at least 149 public (gov’t) attorneys & legal advisers, 108 law schools academics were dismissed with emergency decrees, most of them were also detained or arrested. As the most recent ring of Erdogan’s persecution chain, nine respected human rights defenders including the chair and director of Amnesty International Turkey Branch were arrested.
The Turkish government has also targeted Turkish lawyers’ right to association. 34 different lawyers’ societies or associations have been shut down since the declaration of the state of emergency. Following their closing down by a government decree, all their assets have also been confiscated without compensation.
Also, 5218 judges and prosecutors were dismissed and they were subsequently arrested. There are still 2600 judges and public prosecutors in prison with nearly 680 of them in solitary confinement.
According to The World Justice Project’s annual report entitled “Rule of Law Index 2016″, Turkey is on 99th rank amongst 113 countries. Turkey is on 105th rank in terms of “fundamental rights” and on 108th rank in terms of “constraints on government powers” amongst 113 countries.