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HomeHeadlineWeekly Human Rights Report: Analyzing Violations in Turkey

Weekly Human Rights Report: Analyzing Violations in Turkey

June 3-9

Arbitrary Detention and Arrest Throughout the week, Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of numerous individuals alleged to have connections with the Gülen movement. In October 2020, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared that the systematic imprisonment of people linked to the movement might constitute crimes against humanity. According to Solidarity with OTHERS, a detailed database monitors these mass detentions since the 2016 coup attempt.

On June 7, Turkish police detained 72 people across 17 provinces for alleged affiliations with the Gülen movement. The following day, a Turkish court arrested six women and one man for listening to religious sermons on the X platform, streamed by individuals abroad accused of being Gülen movement members.

Enforced Disappearances The fate of Yusuf Bilge Tunç, a former public sector worker dismissed by a decree-law during the 2016-2018 state of emergency, remains unknown since he was reported missing on August 6, 2019. This case is part of a series of suspected enforced disappearances targeting government critics since 2016.

Freedom of Assembly and Association On June 6, a new indictment sought a prison sentence of up to 15 and a half years for 12 individuals, eight of whom are in pretrial detention, for attempting to defy a government ban on May Day demonstrations in central İstanbul. The next day, police intervened against locals protesting the inclusion of Akasya, Aksaray, and Saraykent neighborhoods in Antakya as “reserve areas” by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change.

Freedom of Expression and Media A series of incidents in early June highlighted ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression:

  • On June 4, a Turkish court fined a 78-year-old former teacher TL 7080 ($220) for insulting a deputy minister.
  • Prosecutors sought up to 16 years in prison for political communications expert Evren Barış Yavuz over a social media post accusing President Erdoğan’s in-laws of selling jet fuel to Israel.
  • On June 6, an İstanbul court banned access to a report detailing how a state lender allegedly gave loans to companies linked to a notorious crime boss.
  • The same day, the Ankara 3rd Criminal Judicature of Peace blocked access to news reports about a municipal assembly member and contractor involved in corruption and fraud, who tried to flee abroad.
  • On June 7, Istanbul Criminal Judgeship of Peace blocked access to news about a prosecutor accused of sexual abuse.
  • Journalist Furkan Karabay was ordered to pay TL 12500 in damages for defamation.

Freedom of Religion The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey released its “2023 Rights Violations Monitoring Report” on June 7, highlighting increased hate speech against Protestants and obstacles in establishing places of worship.

Kurdish Minority Rights A series of actions against Kurdish politicians and communities were reported:

  • On June 3, Turkey’s Interior Ministry removed Mehmet Sıddık Akış, the co-mayor of Hakkari, from office due to an ongoing investigation.
  • The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) held protests in Hakkari against the mayor’s removal, despite widespread bans on demonstrations.
  • DEM Party Spokesperson Ayşegül Doğan was banned from leaving the country by a court ruling.
  • On June 8, police detained five Kurdish politicians, including former mayors, from Diyarbakır.

Torture and Ill-Treatment Reports of ill-treatment in prisons include:

  • An 84-year-old retired imam, Halil Karakoç, was denied probation despite his advanced age.
  • Mustafa Seçkin, a teacher suffering from severe health issues, remained in pretrial detention.
  • Mehmet Ali Uçar, a visually impaired prisoner, was not released despite a medical report stating he should not stay in prison.

Women’s Rights The “We Will Stop Femicide Platform” reported that 40 women were murdered by men in Turkey in May, with another 20 deaths under suspicious circumstances.

This week’s report highlights continued and widespread human rights abuses in Turkey, emphasizing the urgent need for international attention and action.

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