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Turkey
17.02.21
Urgent Interventions

Turkey: Sentencing of Eren Keskin, a human rights lawyer and the co-president of the Human Rights Association

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
TUR 001 / 0120 / OBS 002.3
Sentencing
Turkey
February 17, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Eren Keskin, a human rights lawyer[1] and the co-president of the Human Rights Association (İHD). Ms. Eren Keskin is the winner of multiple international awards for her peace and human rights work, including the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award, and was a finalist of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2019.

On February 15, 2021, the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court sentenced Eren Keskin to six years and three months in prison for “membership to an illegal armed organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Criminal Code) in the Özgür Gündem trial. Three of the eight other defendants in this trial were also sentenced to prison terms while three were acquitted and the file of the two others were separated from the main case. Ms. Keskin’s lawyers appealed the judgment and she remains free pending trial.

The Observatory recalls that since 2016, Eren Keskin and eight other defendants, including columnists, rotating editors-in-chief and advisory board members of the closed newspaper Özgür Gündem, have been facing charges for “disrupting the unity of the state”, “incitement to commit crime”, “membership to a terrorist organisation”, “terrorist propaganda” and “publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organisations” in relation to articles published in Özgür Gündem. The newspaper was shut down by the Emergency Decree no. 675 on October 29, 2016 over “terrorist propaganda” allegations. The charges also relate to the “co-editor-in-chief” campaign, which was organised between May and August 2016, to support the imprisoned editorial staff of the newspaper.

The Observatory further recalls that Ms. Keskin has been continuously judicially harassed and intimidated for years because of her peaceful human rights activities and exercise of freedom of expression.

The Observatory condemns the sentencing of Eren Keskin and calls on the Turkish authorities to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Eren Keskin, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Eren Keskin and all human rights defenders in Turkey and ensure that they are able to carry out their human rights activities without hindrance and fear of reprisal.

Addresses:

  • President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Email: contact@tccb.gov.tr
  • Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül. Email: info@adalet.gov.tr
  • Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: diab@icisleri.gov.tr ; sti@icisleri.gov.tr
  • Ambassador Mr. Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Email: info@turkdeleg.org; tr-delegation.eu@mfa.gov.tr
  • Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: turkey.unog@mfa.gov.tr

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, February 17, 2021

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • Tel FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18
  • Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39

[1] For almost thirty years, she has contributed to the protection of minority rights, countered violence against women, and campaigned to challenge militarism and end torture. She is the founder of a legal office providing pro bono services for transgender persons and women who were raped or sexually abused by the national security forces

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