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Turkey
04.11.21
Urgent Interventions

Turkey: Sentencing of woman rights defender Ayşe Gökkan

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

TUR 007 / 1121 / OBS 111
Sentencing /
Arbitrary detention
Turkey
November 4, 2021

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ms. Ayşe Gökkan, the Free Women's Movement (Tevgera Jinên Azad-TJA) Term Spokesperson.

On October 20, 2021, Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court sentenced Ayşe Gökkan to a total of 30 years in prison as follows: 12 years in prison on charge of "membership of a terrorist organisation" (a prison term higher than the upper limit), seven years and six months on a second charge of "membership of a terrorist organisation", seven years and six months on charge of "knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organisation" and three years for "propaganda". As of issuing this urgent appeal, Ms. Gökkan remains detained at Diyarbakır Women’s Prison.

During this hearing, Ayşe Gökkan and her lawyers Berfin Gökkan, Özüm Vurgun and Muharrem Şahin decided not to present a defence because of the attitude of the court towards the defendant and her lawyers during the previous hearings on her case. On September 13, 2021, during the last hearing of Ms. Gökkan’s case before the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court, her lawyers as well as several other human rights lawyers and Diyarbakır Bar Association board members, were physically and verbally attacked in the courtroom by police officers and a court president.

Furthermore, Ms. Gökkan’s right to a fair trial has been violated during all the proceedings against her. The court denied her request to present her defense in Kurdish. Moreover, the Court announced its judgment after 23 hearings. Ayşe Gökkan was arrested at the 18th hearing and was denied a translator for the 19th hearing. She was unable to participate in her next two hearings due to technical issues that prevented her from attending virtually. Her lawyers therefore stated that they would present the defence on the merits of the case before Higher courts, not before the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.

The Observatory recalls that Ayşe Gökkan was standing trial on charges of "leading a terrorist organisation" and "being a member of a terrorist organisation". She was arrested at her house in Gaziler town, Kayapınar on January 27, 2021 and was then taken to the Counter-terrorism Branch of Diyarbakır Provincial Security Directorate, along her attorneys. She was held in pre-trial detention since January 28, 2021. The judicial harassment against her is part of a widespread crackdown on women's rights defenders, including other TJA and Rosa Women's Associations members and executives.

The Observatory condemns the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ayşe Gökkan, which seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory urges the authorities of Turkey to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Gökkan as well as all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Turkey and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them.

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 Ayşe Gökkan, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ayşe Gökkan, her detention being arbitrary as it seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances Ayşe Gökkan’s right to a fair trial as well as the independence of judges and lawyers;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ayşe Gökkan, and all other human rights defenders in the country.

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 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.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 4, 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 FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT 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:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39

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