Dear friends,

The first hearing of the case concerning Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı (HRFT President), Erol Önderoğlu (Reporters Without Borders’ representative in Turkey), and Ahmet Nesin (JournalistWriter) will be held at the İstanbul Çağlayan 13th Heavy Penal Court on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 at 15PM.

After being arrested on June 20, 2016, for their solidarity with the Ozgur Gundem Daily and for defending freedom of expression and press, the three human rights defenders had been released on June 30, 2016, thanks to the solidarity and struggle of the human rights defenders both at the national and international scenes.

Coming together in Istanbul on November 8, 2016 for the first hearing of “the case” will be a great opportunity for expressing how unfounded the allegations are, and for experiencing and evoking once again, the value of the pursuit for truth.

We invite all our friends, who can arrange their schedule, to this gathering in Istanbul on November 8th, to which we believe there will be a wide participation. We’d like to stress that your presence in this hearing will substantially contribute to our joint efforts for eradicating torture and other severe human rights violations. On November 8th, the day of the trial, at 10AM, we will organize a FORUM, where all the participants from Turkey and abroad will share their opinions and feelings about the trial process. Certainly, on this occasion, we will have a chance for a quick evaluation regarding the further process, on November 8th after the trial, with all our friends being present.

We’d be glad if all those, who can arrange their schedule to attend the Istanbul gathering on November 8th, can let us know of their participation and travel schedule WITHIN TWO WEEKS. This way, we will be able to prepare a more detailed programme.

For all practical information, such as hotel bookings and daily schedule, you can contact Pinar Ceylan via the following email address: tihv@tihv.org.tr.

Kind regards,

Metin Bakkalcı

Secretary General of HRFT

Please click here to download the call as pdf.

Background information

Sebnem Korur Fincancı (President of Human Rights Foundation in Turkey, and who has dedicated her life to preventing human rights violations, mainly torture and ill-treatment;), together with two other campaigners, Erol Önderoğlu (Turkey Representative of Reporters without Borders) and Ahmet Nesin (Journalist) had been arrested on 20 June 2016 for their solidarity with the Ozgur Gundem Daily.

As a result of the solidarity and the campaign by the human rights defenders both at the national and international scenes, they had been released on 30 June 2016. Yet, the concerned prosecution is ongoing. The trio is accused of overtly “provoking commision of offence1 ”, “praising the offence and the offender 2 ” and “making propaganda of terrorist organisation through means of press3 ”, for serving as the editors-in-chief of Özgür Gündem for one day, as a part of the Daily’s “Editor-in-chief on Watch” campaign. Within the scope of the prosecution, Fincancı, Önderoğlu, and Nesin are facing up to 14 years in prison.

The first hearing of the case will be held at İstanbul Çağlayan 13th Heavy Penal Court on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 15PM.

The solidarity campaign with the Ozgur Gundem Daily was started on World Press Freedom Day, against the investigations, fines and the arrests Ozgur Gundem has been facing since 2014, because of its anti-governmental and pro-Kurdish stance. Since May 3, nearly 50 other journalists and activists guest-edited the paper for a day each, to support freedom of speech and press, and to deplore the repressions, the paper is subject to. Other guest editors are also being investigated or prosecuted on terrorism-related charges. These 3 guest editors however had been the first to be detained, whereas they had further activities related to the escalating violence and prolonged curfews in the Kurdish region. Some strong evidence shared in public such as Cizre report indicating a child’s lower jaw bone found among many burnt bone particles in a basement where allegedly only the parties to the clashes had been killed during clashes thus human rights activities can be the implied reason for this harassing prosecution.

The charges pressed against them rely on the Turkey’s controversial criminal and anti-terror legislation, which Turkey was required to change, in order to meet the international human rights standards. The case has once again demonstrated that the Turkish government is using the antiterrorism laws to silence critics via judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights activists, journalists, and academics.

In June 2016, the UN Committee against Torture stated that it “is seriously concerned about numerous consistent reports of intimidation and harassment of and violence against human rights defenders, journalists, and medical doctors who provide assistance to victims of torture.”

  1. Article 214 of Penal Code of Turkey requires punishment with imprisonment from six months to five years.
      2. Article 215 of Penal Code of Turkey requires punishment with imprisonment up to two years.
      3.Article 7/2 of Anti- Terror Law requires punishment with imprisonment from one to five years where penalty to be aggravated by one half.