As the Unconditional Justice Movement, we stood our ninth watch in front of the European Court of Human Rights on Sunday, January 24. This watch, which we held on the Day of Lawyers in Danger, lasted four hours with the participation of many people.
- Laywers, the institution of defense, one of the most important components of the rule of law, are being under attack in Turkey, where the new scandals emerge every day, undermining the human rights and democracy. The defense lawyers are the last hope left for hundreds of thousands of people in today’s Turkey, where the judicial system is completely corrupted and has gone bankrupt. As such is the case with today’s Turkey, the present government attaches special importance to the war it has started against the defense.
- In the last five years, – more than 1500 lawyers were tried, and more than 600 lawyers were arrested. 450 lawyers were sentenced to a total of 2786 years in prison for being a member of an armed terrorist organization or for making terrorist propaganda. As far as we know, at least 146 lawyers are currently in Turkey’s prisons.
- The following are some examples of the well-known cases in Turkey: Members of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) and of People’s Law Office (HHB) in Istanbul were sentenced to approximately 160 years in prison in March 2019. Ankara Assize Court No.22 sentenced 21 lawyers to nearly 150 years in prison. Lawyers detained on August 3th and 26th, 2016 were convicted under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes membership of an armed terrorist organization.
- Konya Assize Court No.6 sentenced 19 lawyers, including the ex-president of the Konya Bar Association, Fevzi Kayacan, to various sentences ranging from 6 to 14 years‘ imprisonment. In Diyarbakır, 13 lawyers were sentenced to three years, one month and fifteen days in prison for their peaceful demonstrations while they had been law school students.
- Mass investigations and lawsuits continue to be launched against lawyers, and time to time, lawyers performing their duties are exposed to attacks by the police. Lawyers are arrested while performing their duties; lawyers trying to fulfill their professional duties suddenly may find themselves on trial for trumped-up terrorism charges before the high criminal courts.
- The fact that the murder of Tahir Elçi (former president of Diyarbakir Bar), which was staged in front of all of us in 2015, and has remained unsolved up until now, unfortunately demonstrates the seriousness of the danger faced by lawyers in Turkey.
Not only lawyers are in danger, but also the citizens whose rights lawyers defend, the right to defense, the right to a fair trial, justice and freedom are all also under threat. In this direction, we demand that the lawyers in prison be released immediately and unconditionally, that the pressure on lawyers be eliminated, and that an environment in which lawyers can perform their professional activities and duties without being exposed to any danger or impediment be built up.