January 12th, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

As you know, Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı (HRFT President and a member of the Independent Forensic Expert Group), Erol Önderoğlu (Reporters Without Borders’ representative in Turkey), and Ahmet Nesin (Journalist-Writer) have been tried for serving as the editors-in-chief-on-watch for one day, in the scope of a campaign of solidarity with the Özgür Gündem Daily.

For defending freedom of expression and press, Fincancı, Önderoğlu, and Nesin are accused of “provoking commission of an offence”, “praising the offence and the offenders” and ”making propaganda of terrorist organization through means of press”.  If found guilty, they could face up to 14 years in jail.

The second hearing of the case took place at the Istanbul Çağlayan 13th Heavy Penal Court on January 11. Instead of dropping these unfounded charges, the Court decided to postpone the proceeding, after deciding to separate from the case, the file concerning İnan Kızılkaya, the editor-in-chief of the Daily, and joining it with other files concerning him, related to his position as being editor in chief. The third hearing of the case concerning Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu, and Ahmet Nesin will take place on March 21st at 11 AM.

Representatives of several human rights organizations from throughout the world, including Miriam Reventlow, Director of Governance and Policy at International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims; Angelika Claussen, Regional Vice President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War-Europe; Per Stadig, Vice Chairman of the Red Cross Foundation Sweden, Martin Schoenpflug from Zentrum Überleben, Bettina Birmanns from Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Kristina Tollback from International Commision of Jurists Swedish Section Board Member, Barbara Neppert from Amnesty International Germany,Ernst Ludwig Iskenius from Physicians Group of Amnesty International Germany, and Alper Öktem fromInternational Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War-Germany attended the hearing.

In the press release that followed the hearing, Financı stated, “The solidarity here shows that we are standing by the truth. The courthouses should be places where justice is established. We will struggle to make courthouses such places. Every word we spend is to bring humanity closer to justice.” NGO representatives, press members and rights defenders from Turkey and all over the world expressed their solidarity with Fincancı, Önderoğlu, and Nesin, and called on Turkish authorities to cease harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders.

We thank all our friends and colleagues, who attended to this valuable gathering, and who through various channels, provided their support and displayed solidarity with us, in the face of the unfounded charges concerning Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu ve Ahmet Nesin, who have been pursuing justice and truth, as required by their professions of medicine and journalism.

Here, we once again express our wish that this meaningful solidarity is carried on in future, and will be repeated on March 21st, 2017.

Metin Bakkalcı

HRFT Secretary General