Human Rights Defenders Sentenced to Prison
The defendants were prosecuted for having attended the funeral of Ciftci in 1999. Dr. Ayan, was sentenced to 18 months and Kaya, together with other 28 defendants, to 18 months in prison.
The defendants were prosecuted for having attended the funeral of Nevzat Ciftci that took place on 30 September 1999. Mr. Ciftci was one of the prisoners killed during the military operation in Ankara Ulucanlar prison on 26 September 1999.
The defendants were charged with "attacking the gendarmes with stones and bottles" and "resisting and opposing through violent means" pursuant to Articles 32/1 and 32/3 of the Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations.
According to testimonies, the gendarmerie had set up barricades at the village entrance and violently attacked the group to prevent them from attending the funeral.
At least 69 individuals were arrested, beaten and detained, and 14 individuals were remanded, including Dr. Alp Ayan and Mrs. Günseli Kaya, members of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Izmir, who then spent 4 months in detention.
On February 16, 2004, after a four years trial, Dr. Alp Ayan, was sentenced to 18 months and one day in prison, and Mrs. Günseli Kaya, together with other 28 defendants, to 18 months in prison. Another defendant, Mr. Adnan Akin was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
The rest (37) were acquitted. The defendants are planning to appeal the convictions.
On January 30, 2004, in an Open Letter to the Turkish Minister of Justice, the Observatory expressed concern over several violations of the right to a fair trial reported by its judicial observer, who attended previous hearings, as well as over the duration of the trial (see Open Letter to the Minister of Justice of Turkey, January 30th, 2004).
The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to:
* guarantee the right to a fair trial of the defendants during the trial in appeal, so that the charges against them be definitely dropped;
* put an end to judicial harassment of human rights defenders in
* conform with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998, in particular its article 5.a which states that everyone has the right "to meet or assemble peacefully";
* to amend Law 2911 on Meetings and demonstrations in order to guarantee the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, a right enshrined in article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as well as in article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, signed by Turkey on 15 August 2000. (NM)
* For more information, please contact: FIDH: 00 33 1 43 55 25 18 - OMCT: 00 41 22 809 49 24
Paris-geneva - Balkan human rights
17 February 2004, Tuesday