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Urgent Interventions

Continued judicial harassment faced by Ms. Pinar Selek


New information

TUR 001 / 0113 / OBS 009

Judicial harassment


January 21, 2013

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory hasbeen informed by reliable sources about the continued judicialharassment faced by Ms. Pinar Selek, a writer andsociologist who has been actively advocating for peace and women's rights anddefending the rights of vulnerable communities in Turkey, including women, thepoor, street children, sexual minorities and the Kurd and Armenian minorities.

According to theinformation received, on January 24, 2013, the Istanbul Heavy Penal CourtNo. 12 will hear the case against Ms. Pinar Selek and may issue afourth verdict. She faces charges of causing a bomb to explode in Istanbul’sEgyptian bazaar on July 9, 1998, and of being a member of a terroristorganisation for that purpose. She faces up to life imprisonment.

The Observatory recallsthat Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 acquitted her on three occasions: in2006, 2008, and for the last time on February 9, 2011. Following appeals filedby the Prosecutor, the Court of Cassation quashed the first two acquittaldecisions (see background information).

The Observatoryreiterates its call on the Turkish authorities to immediately andunconditionally put an end to the judicial harassment that has beentargeting Ms. Pinar Selek for 15 years, as it seems to merely aim atsanctioning her human rightsactivities.


In 1998, Ms. Pınar Selek, as a sociologist, carriedout a research project that involved interviewing members of the KurdistanWorkers Party (PKK), seeking to understand the motivations of both sides in theenduring armed conflict between the Kurdish minority and the Turkish State.

On July 9, 1998, an explosion in the Istanbul SpiceBazaar caused a number of deaths and injuries.

On July 11, 2008, Ms. Pınar Selek was arrested by thesecurity services and interrogated about the people she interviewed during herresearch. When she refused to reveal the names of her informants, she wasseverely tortured.

In August 1998, Ms. Pınar Selek was accused of havingordered the bomb attack on the basis of a testimony made by a detaineereportedly under torture. The defendant later withdrew his statement during thetrial, saying he did not know Ms. Selek. Police and court’s investigations largelyconfirmed the absence of any bomb and attributed the explosion to a gas leak.

In December 2000, Ms. Selek was released on bail aftershe had spent two years and a half in prison. Both in 2006 and 2008, İstanbulHeavy Penal Court No. 12 acquitted her after determining there was no evidencelinking her to the blast. The prosecutor nevertheless appealed twice againstthese rulings, and the Court of Cassation twice granted the motion by annullingthe first instance verdicts. The General Prosecutor of the Court of Cassationappealed against the rulings of the Court of Cassation. On February 9, 2010,the High General Criminal Council of the Court of Cassation rejected theGeneral Prosecutor’s appeal and in its judgement clearly stated that the rulingof the Court of Cassation was reasonable and called for a life prison sentencefor Ms. Selek.

On February 9, 2011, Ms. Selek again appeared on trialbefore İstanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12, which decided to acquit her for thethird time. On the next day, the prosecution appealed again to the Court ofCassation. To date, the appeal on the third acquittal remains pending beforethe Court of Cassation.

In June 2011 and afterwards, several hearings tookplace before the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 in relation to other aspectsof the criminal case.

On November 22, 2012, the Istanbul Heavy PenalCourt No. 12 decided to amend its previous decision to acquitMs. Pinar Selek. In addition, the Presiding Judge, who was replacingthe ordinary presiding judge on sick leave, requestedthe condemnation of Ms. Selek to life imprisonment before setting a newdate for a hearing on December 13, 2012 to hear the observations of theaccused.

Ms. Pinar Selek'slawyers filed a petition to revoke the Presiding Judge on account ofimpartiality. This motion was rejected by Istanbul Heavy Penal Court Nos.12 and 13.

On December 13, 2012,the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 referred the case to January 24, 2013 toallow the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 14 to examine the petition filed byMs. Pinar Selek's lawyers.

Actions requested:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical andpsychological integrity of Ms. Pinar Selek as well as allhumanrights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including atthe judicial level, againstMs. Pinar Selek as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the United NationsDeclaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone hasthe right, individually and in association with others, to promote and tostrive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamentalfreedoms at the national and international levels” ;

- - its Article 6 (c) which states that“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study,discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice,of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and otherappropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;

- as well as Article 12.2, which provides that“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by thecompetent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others,against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the presentDeclaration” ;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances therespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance withinternational and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.


· President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül,Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 468 5026; Email:

· Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Officeof the Prime Minister Basbakanlik 06573 Ankara, Turkey, Fax: + 90 312 417 0476;Email:

· Deputy Prime Minister Responsible for HumanRights, Mr. Beşir Atalay, Email:, Fax: + 90 (312) 422 13 98

· Interior Minister, Mr. Idris Naim Şahin,06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95 / +90 312 418 7696,

· Justice Minister, Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Ministryof Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi, 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 414 62 26

· Foreign Minister, Mr. Ahmed Davudoglu, Office ofthe Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, 06573 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 287 88 11

· Ambassador, Mr. Oğuz Demiralp, Permanent Missionof Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Ch. du Petit-Saconnex 28b - CP 271,CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland, E-mail:, Fax:+41 22 734 08 59

· Ambassador, Mr. Izzet Selim Yenel, DiplomaticMission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38,1000 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50.

Please also write to the embassies of Turkey in yourrespective country.


Paris-Geneva, January 21, 2013

Kindly inform us of anyaction undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory,call the emergency line:

  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See Observatory Annual Report 2011and Press Releases, March 22, 2012, November 20 and 27, 2012 and December 21,2012.

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