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14 lawyers arrested and charged

Status: 
Arrested & charged
About the situation

On 29 November 2017, the aunt of detained human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Barkın Timtik, Sultan Kaya, was detained for a number of hours and accused of “terrorist propaganda”, although no formal charges have been brought. Earlier that day she staged a sit-in protest in front of Istanbul Çağlayan Justice Palace with a banner reading “Release my children Ebru and Barkın Timtik. Freedom to lawyers” and was taken into police custody. Sultan Kaya was one of a number of family members of detained human rights defenders and lawyers from the People’s Law Office who submitted a petition to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office asking for the indictment of the members of the People’s Law Office and for an immediate court hearing.

 

About People's Law Office

halkin_hukuk.jpegDidem Baydar, Şükriye Erden, Ayşegül Çağatay, Ebru Timtik, Aytaç Ünsal, Zehra Özdemir, Yağmur Ereren, Engin Gökoğlu, Süleyman Gökten, Aycan Çiçek, Naciye Demir, Behiç Aşçı, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz are human rights defenders and lawyers belonging to the People’s Law Office in Turkey. They are well known due to their work on high profile cases such as that of 15- year old Berkin Elvan, who died during the Gezi Park protests after being hit on the head by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer, and  Dilek Doğan, a young woman who was shot and killed by a police officer during an anti-terror raid on her house on 18 October 2015.  They also represent Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two educators dismissed from their positions following the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016.  The detention of the 14 human rights defenders from the People’s Law Office occurred two days before the educators’ trial was due to begin on 14 September 2017.

4 December 2017
Family member of People’s Law Office lawyers detained

On 29 November 2017, the aunt of detained human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Barkın Timtik, Sultan Kaya, was detained for a number of hours and accused of “terrorist propaganda”, although no formal charges have been brought. Earlier that day she staged a sit-in protest in front of Istanbul Çağlayan Justice Palace with a banner reading “Release my children Ebru and Barkın Timtik. Freedom to lawyers” and was taken into police custody. Sultan Kaya was one of a number of family members of detained human rights defenders and lawyers from the People’s Law Office who submitted a petition to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office asking for the indictment of the members of the People’s Law Office and for an immediate court hearing.

On 20 September 2017, 14 lawyers from the People’s Law Office Didem Baydar, Şükriye Erden, Ayşegül Çağatay, Ebru Timtik, Aytaç Ünsal, Zehra Özdemir, Yağmur Ereren, Engin Gökoğlu, Süleyman Gökten, Aycan Çiçek, Naciye Demir, Behiç Aşçı, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz were accused of having ties to the DHKP-C, a recognised terrorist organisation in Turkey, after having been taken into police custody on 12 September 2017. Lawyer Ahmet Mandacı who was taken into police custody and then released was detained again on 30 September 2017.

The detained lawyers from People’s Law Office are well known due to their work on high profile cases such as that of 15-year old Berkin Elvan, who died during the Gezi Park protests after being hit on the head by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer, and Dilek Doğan, a young woman who was shot and killed by a police officer during an anti-terror raid on her house on 18 October 2015. They also represent Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two educators dismissed from their positions following the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016.

On 3 November 2017, the People’s Law Office reported that one of their detained lawyers, Engin Gökoğlu, required surgery after having been beaten and subjected to torture by prison officers in Tekirdag No. 2 T-type Prison. He is currently being kept in a cell in the prison awaiting surgery and has not been given access to any of his personal effects.

On 6 November 2017, the organisation reported the unjust treatment of a number of its imprisoned lawyers. The petitions and requests of the human rights defenders are not being responded to, nor are they being sent to the relevant authorities by prison administrations. They are subject to a number of other restrictions, including limits on the number of books they can keep and prohibitions on certain political magazines. The cases against all 14 lawyers remain confidential and no information has been given by authorities regarding the investigation. Lawyer Ahmet Mandacı and his colleague Özgür Yılmaz have been kept in solitary confinement since the beginning of their detention.

Front Line Defenders condemns the continuing harassment and imprisonment of human rights defenders in Turkey as a result of their peaceful work in defence of the rights of others.
 

6 November 2017
Unjust treatment of imprisoned lawyers from the People’s Law Office

On 6 November 2017, the People’s Law Office reported that petitions from their imprisoned colleagues were being treated arbitrarily and in an unjust manner. According to the organisation, the petitions and requests of the human rights defenders are not being responded to, nor are they being sent to the relevant authorities by prison administrations. In Bolu T-Type Prison, Barkın Timtik, one of the 14 lawyers detained, lodged a petition objecting against a one month visitation ban, however it is reported that this petition never reached the relevant authorities. His sentence was thus finalised on the grounds that he had not objected. Barkın Timtik and his two colleagues detained in Bolu T-Type Prison are subjected to a number of other restrictions, including limits on the number of books they can keep and prohibitions on certain political magazines. The cases against all 14 lawyers remain confidential and no information has been given by authorities regarding the investigation or charges against them.

Lawyer Ahmet Mandacı from People’s Law Office, who was detained on 30 September 2017, and his colleague Özgür Yılmaz, detained ten days earlier, have been kept in solitary confinement since the beginning of their detention.

On 20 September 2017, 14 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Peace Criminal Judge. They have been accused of having ties to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C), recognised as a terorrist organisation in Turkey. They are being detained separately in a number of different prisons, far from their families and places of residence.

Currently Behiç Aşçı and Aytaç Ünsal are detained in Burhaniye T-Type Prison, Sükriye Erden and Didem Ünsal are detained in Karabük T-Type Prison, Naciye Demir, Barkın Timtik and Zehra Özdemir are in Bolu T-Type Prison, Yağmur Evin and Ebru Timtik are held in Balıkesir T-Type Prison, Ayşegül Çağatay and Aycan Çiçek are in Düzce T-Type Prison, Özgür Yılmaz and Ahmet Mandacı in Edirne F-Type Prison, Süleyman Gökten in Tekirdağ No. 1 Prison and Engin Gökoğlu is detained in Tekirdag No.2 Prison.

27 September 2017
14 lawyers from People's Law Office arrested and charged

On 20 September 2017, 14 lawyers were charged with “being members of a terrorist organisation” by the Istanbul Criminal Judgeship of Peace. They were detained and taken into police custody on 12 September 2017.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Didem Baydar, Şükriye Erden, Ayşegül Çağatay, Ebru Timtik, Aytaç Ünsal, Zehra Özdemir, Yağmur Ereren, Engin Gökoğlu, Süleyman Gökten, Aycan Çiçek, Naciye Demir, Behiç Aşçı, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz are human rights defenders and lawyers belonging to the People’s Law Office in Turkey. They are well known due to their work on high profile cases such as that of 15- year old Berkin Elvan, who died during the Gezi Park protests after being hit on the head by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer, and  Dilek Doğan, a young woman who was shot and killed by a police officer during an anti-terror raid on her house on 18 October 2015.  They also represent Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two educators dismissed from their positions following the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016.  The detention of the 14 human rights defenders from the People’s Law Office occurred two days before the educators’ trial was due to begin on 14 September 2017.

On 11-12 September 2017, around midnight, Turkish police raided the offices of People's Law Office in Istanbul and Ankara as well as the lawyers' houses. The 14 human rights defenders were detained following a warrant issued by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office accusing them of “being members of a terrorist organisation”. On 20 September 2017, the human rights defenders were taken to the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul courthouse where their testimonies were taken. Ahmet Mandacı and Ezgi Gökten were then released under judicial control as they had no formal ties to the People’s Law Office, while all others were arrested. The lawyers are accused of having ties to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C) which is recognised as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.

The HRDs were separated and sent to different prisons following their arrest. Behiç Aşçı and Aytaç Ünsal are detained in Burhaniye T Type Prison; Sükriye Erden and Didem Ünsal are detained in Karabük T Type Prison; Naciye Demir, Barkın Timtik and Zehra Özdemir are held in Bolu T Type Prison; Yağmur Evin and Ebru Timtik are held in Balıkesir T Type Prison; Ayşegül Çağatay and Aycan Çiçek are in Düzce T Type Prison, Özgür Yılmaz is in Edirne T Type Prison, Süleyman Gökten is in Tekirdağ No. 1 Prison and Engin Gökoğlu is detained in Tekirdag No.2 Prison.

Under the State of Emergency currently imposed in Turkey, over 140,000 civil servants have lost their jobs following governmental decrees. Many people including human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, academics and intellectuals have been detained and accused of ties with terrorist groups.

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the charges against the 14 lawyers and human rights defenders affiliated with the People's Law Office, as it believes that they have been detained in relation to their peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights in Turkey.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release the lawyers, as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Immediately drop all charges against the lawyers, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the lawyers;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.