FIDH: Turkey must end the impunity of political violence





Following the third hearing, FIDHwelcomes the filming of the proceedings, as transparency is anessential element to guarantee the fairness of the procedure.Nevertheless, FIDH Secretary General Florence Bellivier calls theTurkish authorities « to ensure full access to the documents related tothe case to the lawyers of Dink’s family, in particular the results ofthe investigation into the behaviour of State security agents ».

In parallel to this case, FIDH wishesto express its satisfaction following the arrest, on January 22nd, andthe opening of a judicial investigation against a group ofultra-nationalist individuals who would belong to the illegalparamilitary group Ergenekon. Among them is Mr. Veli Küçük, a retiredgeneral of the Turkish army.

Without prejudice to the results of theinvestigation, FIDH welcomes the opening of proceedings againstindividuals whose names have appeared repeatedly in a number of casesof political violence, notably the murder of Hrant Dink, the massacreof a Christian pastor and two of his practitioners in Malatya on April18th 2007, and the killing of a Catholic Priest on February 4th 2006 inTrabzon. « FIDH hopes that these investigations will enable thedetermination of higher levels of responsibility in the instigation ofthese crimes, and break the cycle of political violence » saidSecretary General Florence Bellivier.

Beyond the trial, the mission was anopportunity to discuss several of the main human rights violations thatTurkey is facing today. In this respect, FIDH wishes to highlight thefollowing:The Kurdish Question.

FIDH and its member organisation theHuman Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği, IHD) express theirdeep preoccupation at the continuous human rights violations in theSouth-Eastern provinces. The organisations are particularly preoccupiedby the bombing of civilian areas, in violation of fundamentalprinciples of international human rights and humanitarian law. Theorganisations repeat their call to the authorities for a political andpacific settlement of the Kurdish Question, and urge the government toopen talks with Kurdish organisations and civil society in this respect.

Freedom of opinion and expression.

FIDH repeats its call for the abolitionof Article 301 of the Penal Code. Freedom of expression should not becriminalised and Turkey should conform with the recommendationsaddressed by all UN special rapporteurs and treaty bodies in thisrespect. Newspapers such as Free-Agenda (Özgür Gündem), documenting thesituation of Kurdish or other minorities as well as the consequences ofthe conflict in the South East, should be able to publish their stories.

Situation of human rights defenders

FIDH is worried about the continuousharassment of human rights defenders, intellectuals and journalists whopromote human rights. As documented by the Observatory for theprotection of Human Rights defenders (FIDH-OMCT), Mr. Ethem Açikalin,the Chair of IHD’s section in Adana, as well as the former chair and anAdministrator of the Ankara section remain under arbitrary detention.FIDH calls for their immediate release. FIDH further remainspreoccupied at the judicial harassment against the Vice-President ofthe IHD, Ms Reyhan Yalçındağ, the pending court case to close down theMersin section of IHD (in South Turkey, as well as with the prosecutionof members of the National Commission on Human rights, professors Mr.Ibrahim Kaboglu and Mr. Baskin Oran, for having published a report onMinorities in Turkey. FIDH calls for the suspension of all charges inthese trials.

Counter-terrorism and human Rights, use of torture.

FIDH is finally worried aboutinformation reported by its member organisation the Human RightsFoundation of Turkey, on the broad and vague definition of the actsdefined under the Anti-terror Act, in violation of the principle oflegality of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.The organisations further deplore the continuous use of torture inimpunity or the light sentences resulting from the few condemnations.They call upon the Turkish authorities to comply with therecommendations of the UN Independent Expert on counter-terrorism andhuman rights, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

The International Federation for HumanRights (FIDH) undertook a mission in Istanbul, Turkey, from February 9to 11, 2008, on the occasion of the third hearing of the Hrant Dinkmurder trial, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenianweekly Agos newspaper, who was shot dead in front of his office on 19January 2007. This mission was deployed in follow-up to FIDH’smobilisation alongside Hrant Dink’s family and lawyers, and in supportof their struggle for Justice.