Statements & Publications

18 Turkish lawyers arrested

Press release - 12 September 2017

This morning, 18 Turkish lawyers from Istanbul and Ankara were arrested in Turkey. The phones and computers of two other lawyers were confiscated during this police action. The reasons for the arrests are unknown; it is not customary in Turkey for these to be announced.

All the lawyers are members of the progressive Turkish lawyers' organisation ÇHD, a member organisation of the ELDH. They all work in the renowned Law Office of the People's Law Firm, which specializes in representing workers, tenants and victims of police arbitrariness. Among other things, they all represent two teachers (Ms Nuriye Gülmen and Mr Semih Özakça) who were dismissed after the coup attempt last year, even though they had nothing to do with it. After peacefully demonstrating in Ankara, Mr Semih Özakça was imprisoned first, and later on Ms Nuriye Gülmen. They have been fighting against this arbitrariness for more than 6 months, by going on hunger strike. Meanwhile, they are accused of being members or supporters of the leftist organisation DHKP/C, which is banned in Turkey. Criminal proceedings against them are scheduled to begin this week on Friday, 14 September 2017.

At present, all the lawyers involved are in police custody. Due to the emergency legislation still in force in Turkey, police custody can be extended for up to 14 days without a court order. This happens frequently. It is believed that the arrest of the lawyers will prevent them from representing the two detained teachers.

The European  organisation of which  ÇHD is a member, the ELDH, protests against the arrest of the lawyers and demands their immediate release. The Secretary-General of the ELDH points out that Turkey has in many cases already prevented lawyers from defending political opponents in court through the use of criminal proceedings, detention and other repressive measures.. The Turkish Government is thus violating not only its own laws, but also the European Convention on Human Rights and international law.

The press release (PDF-file)