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People’s Law Office

Halkın Hukuk Bürosu

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 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.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.

Through the wide-ranging use of State of Emergency laws, the Turkish government has significantly infringed on the rights to freedom of expression, media, assembly, and association, and has particularly restricted the liberty of those engaged in human rights work. These laws enable even further human rights violations, as HRDs often do not have the freedom to monitor the activities of the security forces, who have been granted extensive powers.