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Orouba Barakat and daughter, Halla Barakat, killed in Turkey

Status: 
Killed; Suspect sentenced
About the situation

On 22 December 2017, Istanbul Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office concluded the indictment for the murders of Syrian human rights defenders Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat and called for the imposition of two sentences of life imprisonment under the charge of “intentional killing” according to the Turkish Criminal Code, Article 82.

On 30 September 2017, Turkish police arrested a suspect in the killing of Syrian human rights defenders Orouba and Halla Barakat.

According to information shared by Turkish Police, the suspect is a distant relative of the deceased. He was detained in Bursa province and transferred to Istanbul for questioning after police inspection of security camera footage. The motive for the killings remains unknown.

About Orouba Barakat

orouba_barakat.jpgOrouba Barakat was a prominent Syrian human rights defender and producer of numerous documentaries detailing torture by authorities and prison massacres committed by the Assad regime.

16 March 2018
Ahmed Barakat sentenced to life imprisonment for murder of Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat

On 13 March 2018, the first hearing into the murder of human rights defenders Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat was concluded in the İstanbul Anatolia 5th High Criminal Court.

Ahmed Barakat, a distant relative of the defenders, who denied the charges in court, despite having initially confessed to the killings, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the “intentional killing” of Orouba Barakat and aggravated life imprisonment under the charge of “intentional killing with the intention of concealing or facilitating commission of an offense, or destroying the evidence” for the murder of Halla Barakat.

On 21 September 2017, Syrian human rights defender Orouba Barakat and her daughter, journalist and human rights defender, Halla Barakat, were found stabbed in their apartment in Istanbul, Turkey.

On 30 September 2017, Turkish police arrested a suspect in connection with the killings. According to the indictment concluded by the Istanbul Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 22 December 2017, Ahmed Barakat confessed to killing Orouba Barakat for refusing to give him money and then Halla Barakat for witnessing her mother’s murder.

4 January 2018
Life imprisonment requested for the murderer of Orouba and Halla Barakat

On 22 December 2017, Istanbul Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office concluded the indictment for the murders of Syrian human rights defenders Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat and called for the imposition of two sentences of life imprisonment under the charge of “intentional killing” according to the Turkish Criminal Code, Article 82.

On 21 September 2017, Syrian human rights defender, Orouba Barakat, and her daughter, journalist and human rights defender, Halla Barakat, were found stabbed in their apartment in Istanbul, Turkey.

On 30 September 2017, Turkish police arrested a suspect in connection with the killings. At that time, initial reports maintained that the killings were in direct retaliation against the defenders’ human rights work. According to the indictment, the murderer, Ahmed Barakat, a distant relative of the defenders, confessed to killing Orouba Barakat for refusing to give him money and then Halla Barakat for witnessing her mother’s murder.

2 October 2017
Suspect in the killing of Orouba and Halla Barakat detained

On 30 September 2017, Turkish police arrested a suspect in the killing of Syrian human rights defenders Orouba and Halla Barakat.

According to information shared by Turkish Police, the suspect is a distant relative of the deceased. He was detained in Bursa province and transferred to Istanbul for questioning after police inspection of security camera footage. The motive for the killings remains unknown.

28 September 2017
Orouba Barakat and daughter, Halla Barakat, killed in Turkey

On 21 September 2017, Syrian human rights defender Orouba Barakat and her daughter, journalist and human rights defender Halla Barakat, were found stabbed in their apartment in Istanbul, Turkey.

Orouba Barakat was a prominent Syrian human rights defender and producer of numerous documentaries detailing torture by authorities and prison massacres committed by the Assad regime. Her daughter Halla Barakat worked as a human rights defender and editor for the pro-opposition website Orient News which has issued reports on secret detention centres in Syria. After leaving Syria at the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, they traveled to Britain and the United Arab Emirates before settling in Istanbul, Turkey.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

On the night of 21 September 2017, the bodies of Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were found by police in their apartment in Uskudar neighborhood, Istanbul. Police had been alerted by family friends who had found themselves unable to contact the pair. Post-mortem examinations on the bodies indicated that they had died three days prior to discovery. Reports from family members and friends indicate that their murders were politically motivated due to their peaceful and legitimate work in human rights.

This is not the first time human rights defenders have been killed in Turkey in recent years. Since the beginning of the civil war, Turkey has become a home for approximately 3 million refugees including Syrian human rights defenders. In 2015, Syrian journalist, film maker and human rights defender Naji Jerf was killed in Turkey’s border city of Gaziantep and in 2016, journalist and human rights defender Zahir El Sherquat was killed there also.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killings of Orouba and Halla Barakat as it believes that their murders were politically motivated and are part of a larger pattern of targeting of Syrian human rights defenders in Turkey.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Strongly and immediately condemn the killings of Orouba and Halla Barakat;

2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killings of Orouba and Halla Barakat, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

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