14 Turkish lawyers were arrested in Istanbul

Last night (20th September), 14 lawyers were arrested in Istanbul, after 9-day police custody.

Lawyers Didem Ünsal, Aytaç Ünsal, Yağmur Ereren, Barkın Timtik, Ebru Timtik, Şükriye Erden, Engin Gökoğlu, Süleyman Gökten, Ozgur Yılmaz, Ayşegül Çağatay, Behiç Aşçı, Aycan Çiçek, Zehra Özdemir, Özgür Yılmaz were arrested; Ezgi Gokten and Ahmet Mandacı were released with probation.

On 12th September 16 lawyers who are the members of People’s Law Office (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu) and Umut Law Office were taken into custody with police raid in Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakır.

On Wednesday (20/09), The lawyers under custody were taken to the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul Courthouse to give their statements. After the interrogation conducted by prosecutors finished, all 16 lawyers were referred to court for arrest and 14 lawyers got arrested by Istanbul Peace Criminal Judge.

With this last wave of crackdown against lawyers, number of lawyers under criminal prosecution raised to 1347; 538 of them have been arrested.

The 18 lawyers who were targeted in the last wave of crackdown against lawyers, have been representing the arrested hunger strike activists Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca. Gulmen and Ozakca who were arrested on 23rd May 2017 and the 18 lawyers represent them were taken into custody 2 days before their (Gulmen and Ozakca) hearing.

Like the 524 lawyers previously arrested, the 14 most recently arrested lawyers were persecuted because they made the defense profession honestly and with full integrity; so indeed in the interrogation conducted by prosecutors, “to remind the right to keep silent, to visit the client in prison” were introduced as a crime against the 18 lawyers.

Situation in Turkey

As of 12th September 2017, 524 lawyers have been arrested (since 15th July 2016) and 1347 lawyers are under prosecution. Some of the arrested lawyers were subjected torture and ill-treatment.

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.

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Categories: Today in Crackdown

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