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Raci Bilici Convicted & Sentenced

Status: 
Convicted & Sentenced
About the situation

On March 12, 2020, Mehmet Raci Bilici was sentenced by Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court No.5 to six years and three months imprisonment for "membership to a terrorist organisation" (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code). The Court imposed an international travel ban on Mehmet Raci Bilici, who is not detained pending his appeal.

On 21 March 2017, the Criminal Judge on Duty delivered a judgement to provisionally release the human rights defender Raci Bilici. The human rights defender is subject to a travel ban and must appear weekly at the Diyarbakir's police station.

On 15 March 2017, human rights defender Raci Bilici was arrested and is currently held in detention in the Anti-Terror Branch of the Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate of Security.

About Raci Bilici

raci_bilici.jpegRaci Bilici is the Chairperson of the Diyarbakır Branch of Human Rights Association (IHD) and national Vice-Chairperson of İHD. The association was founded in 1986 with the aim to promote human rights and democracy in Turkey. It conducts research and educational events in the area of human rights, monitors and documents violations of human rights, and combats all forms of discrimination.

23 March 2020
Raci Bilici Convicted & Sentenced

On March 12, 2020, Mehmet Raci Bilici, national board member of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and former chair of the organisation’s Diyarbakır branch, was sentenced by Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court No.5 to six years and three months imprisonment for "membership to a terrorist organisation" (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code). The Court imposed an international travel ban on Mehmet Raci Bilici, who is not detained pending his appeal. This conviction is based on his legitimate human rights work between 2011 and 2014 on behalf of IHD as a board member and former chair of IHD’s Diyarbakır branch. At the time of writing, the Court’s reasoned judgment had not yet been issued. The verdict is subject to appeal – if it is upheld, Mehmet Raci Bilici would not be able to practice as a lawyer in accordance with the Attorneyship Act of Turkey.

In the indictment, the Prosecutor had requested Mehmet Raci Bilici’s conviction based on wiretaps and audio surveillance of activities that he had participated in and some of his social media posts in 2015 and 2016. The activities subjected to surveillance were his monitoring of human rights violations, participation in meetings of human rights organisations and of the Democratic Society Congress, an umbrella organisation focusing on Kurdish rights and politics. The social media posts included in the indictment do not represent evidence of criminal acts, let alone any connection to terrorism.

Mehmet Raci Bilici was previously detained on 15 March 2017 and released on bail with judicial controls – a travel ban and reporting to a police station once a week - on 21 March 2017 within the scope of the same case1. The judicial controls were eventually lifted in spring 2018.

24 March 2017
Raci Bilici Provisionally Released

On 21 March 2017, Raci Bilici was interrogated by the Public Prosecutor in the morning, before being heard by the Criminal Peace Judge on Duty in Diyarbakır in the afternoon. The court decided to release Mr. Raci Bilici on condition of judicial control. As a result, Raci Bilici is subject to a travel ban and must check once a week at Diyarbakır’s police station.

The Public Prosecutor announced that he would pursue an investigation under the Anti-Terrorism Law (Law 3713 of April 1991) for Mr. Bilici’s alleged “relations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” punished by Article 314 of the Penal Code and submit an indictment to the court. The exact reasons for the charges remain unclear as the content of the case file remains confidential including for his lawyer pursuant to the Article 153.2 of the Turkish Criminal Code Procedure (No. 5271).

16 March 2017
Raci Bilici Arrested

On 15 March 2017, human rights defender Raci Bilici was arrested and is currently held in detention in the Anti-Terror Branch of the Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate of Security.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

On 15 March 2017, Raci Bilici was arrested after the Public Prosecution Office in Diyarbakır searched his house as part of an investigation into the work of the Turkish Kurdistan movement. The prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for 16 people suspected of being PKK/KCK members. Raci Bilici was taken to the Anti-Terror Branch of the Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate of Security where he remains in custody. The homes of 15 other representatives of different non-governmental organisations and political parties in Diyarbakır have also been searched and 10 people were detained, while 5 more people remain under investigation. According to the information provided by Raci Bilici's lawyers, the ongoing investigation is covered by a confidentiality order, therefore it is not yet clear what charges have been alleged against the human rights defender.

Following the July 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish authorities declared a state of emergency, which was further extended in January 2017. The Turkish authorities have abused emergency provisions to stifle dissent and detained scores of individuals including human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and civil and political activists who were accused of being linked to coup attempt.

Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest and detention of Raci Bilici, as it believes they are motivated by his peaceful and legitimate defence of human rights in Turkey.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

    1. Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Raci Bilici and drop all charges against him;

    2. Ensure that the treatment of Raci Bilici, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

    3. 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.