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HRD Spotlight: Crackdown in Turkey

Since the recommencement of conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish groups following the breakdown of peace negotiations in July 2015, pressure on media outlets in Turkey - especially those reporting on the conflict itself - has increased significantly.  Journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and academics who report on the issues or question government assertions about the conflict, security operations taking place in the country, or treatment of the minority Kurdish population are at risk. HRDs are arrested, interrogated, and detained for publicly defending minority rights, and the government uses anti-terror legislation to silence critics and pressure civil society.

This week, the crackdown was stepped up when, on 20 June 2016, human rights defenders Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci, Mr Ahmet Nesin and Mr Erol Önderoğlu were placed in detention by decision of the 1st High Court of Peace in Istanbul, pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in the propaganda of terrorism. Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin are being held in Metris prison and Sebnem Korur Fincanci in Bakirkoy prison, Istanbul.

Read the Physicians for Human Rights
Press Release

Read the Reporters Without Borders Statement

Sebnem Korur Fincanci - Erol Onderoglu - Ahmet Nesin

Sebnem Korur Fincanci is a human rights defender and the President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey since 2009. The Foundation is involved in the documentation of cases of torture, rehabilitation of vicitms and the provision of legal assistance to them. Sebnem is also one of the founding members of the Forensic Doctors’ Association and has played a major role in the development of the United Nations reference standards on the investigation and documentation of cases of torture, the Istanbul Protocol. In 2014 Sebnem was presented the International Hrant Dink Award for her human rights work. Erol Önderoğlu is a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders in Turkey and the Editor of Bianet, a Turkish website that covers political, social and cultural affairs with special attention paid to fundamental rights and freedoms. Bianet publishes a press freedom report every quarter. Ahmet Nesin is a journalist, blogger and human rights defender advocating for the freedom of press.

Take Action for Sebnem, Erol & Ahmet

Indigenous people protest, Brazil 2016
15 June 2016
By Renata Oliveira, Former Front Line Defenders Research & Training Fellow for the Americas

At the end of April, my last activity with Front Line Defenders was to accompany Brazilian human rights defender and indigenous leader Tonico Benites to Brussels. Tonico had the chance to meet with several policymakers and diplomats to discuss the challenges faced by indigenous persons in Brazil, particularly his group, the Guarani-Kaiowás. As a Brazilian who comes from a state that has practically decimated its native population, I thought I already knew how bad the situation was.


In nearly a decade of defending her community’s land and rivers from corporate destruction, Honduran woman Ms. Ana Mirian Romero has endured armed raids, physical assault, death threats, and personal defamation campaigns. On 10 June 2016, former President of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice, Mrs. Mary Robinson, presented Ana Mirian with the 2016 Front Line Defenders Award.

22 February 2016

Dispatches 2015 highlights the challenges facing Front Line Defenders in providing fast and effective support to human rights defenders around the world, as the space in which HRDs can work safely continues to shrink.

31 March 2015

In April 2015 Front Line Defenders and Verso Books published La Lucha: The Story of Lucha Castro and Human Rights in Mexico - the first book in a series of nonfiction graphic novels. La Lucha features the real life stories of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in northern Mexico who confront lethal challenges in order to promote human rights, justice and accountability.

14 January 2016

As the 2016 Annual Report documents, at least 156 human rights defenders were killed or died in detention in 2015. More than half of those killings, 87, took place in Latin America, with Colombia alone accounting for 54 killings. Outside the Americas one of the starkest figures was the total of 31 targeted killings of HRDs in the Philippines.