HRAA press release on 9 Lawyers’ arrest

22 January 2013

The police operation took place against the mainly advocates and some musicians were named as “DHKP-C operation against the lawyers”.

However, when we look at the profiles of the advocates we can clearly notice that these lawyers are the ones who continuously fight against the tortures within the security forces, protest against the unlawful acts of the police, participate in the burial ceremonies of the left wing oriented people or militants, as well as issue many press releases against the security forces. The police raiding of their offices by force is a clear violation Turkish law as well as human rights law. According to the Turkish Advocacy Law police cannot raid lawyers Office without any notice. This issue is very strict in Turkish law. The police can search an advocate’s office only with the permission and presence of prosecutor as well as with presence of one representative from the Bar Association.  However, in practice the security forces have never obeyed the Turkish law as well as the international standards. In this incident after the police have entered the offices by forces through breaking the doors, raiding the offices and detaining the advocates the prosecutor has arrived to the scene. Moreover, applying special procedures under anti terrorism law and not allowing lawyers to access the files and accusations are only some other sorts of the illegalities that is being carried out by police as well as the prosecutor.  The human rights NGO’s in Turkey has protested these unlawful acts of the police as well as the prosecutor and stated that the main reasons of this prosecution are the fact that these lawyers have defended their left oriented clients who are accused of being member of a terrorist organization at the courts.

Another point is, although there is confidentiality on the investigation period which has to be directed by public prosecutor, there were several press releases from İstanbul Police Depertment on last two days, which is commented as another violation of Criminal Procedure Code.

Twenty-one suspected members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) known as a leftist armed organization, including nine lawyers affiliated with the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), were arrested and sent to jail early on Monday while several others were released pending trial.

Among the lawyers put under arrest are ÇHD President Selçuk Kozağaçlı and ÇHD İstanbul branch Chairman Taylan Tanay.

The arrests followed a major police crackdown on the terrorist group last week. On Jan. 18, police raided numerous addresses of suspected members of the DHKP/C in several cities, including İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir. Initial reports said the police detained 85 suspects, but police sources later said 97 people were held in custody during the operation. Among those detained were 15 lawyers affiliated with the ÇHD. The lawyers were reportedly held on accusations that they were receiving messages and orders from jailed leaders of the terrorist DHKP/C.

On Sunday, İstanbul police sent 40 of the suspects to prosecutors for detailed interrogation. The prosecutors referred 28 suspects to court, requesting their arrest, and released 12 suspects, including members of the left-wing band Grup Yorum. Selma Altın, İnan Altın, Caner Bozkurt, İbrahim Gökçek and Ali Aracı were the band members released in the early hours of Monday.

After the suspects arrived at the Çağlayan Courthouse for questioning by prosecutors, a few deputies of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) rushed to the building to show their solidarity with the suspects. A group of critics of the police operation against the terrorist group also convened in front of the courthouse to protest the detentions.

Of the 28 suspects, 12 were arrested. The court ruled that it was not necessary to arrest the remaining 16 suspects, but restricted the ability to travel of seven of them. Sources said two of those released are lawyers.

As the suspects’ interrogation at the courthouse continued, a group of protesters clashed with the police. One police officer was slightly injured during the clashes. The officer was taken to a nearby hospital. News sources said the group was protesting the detention of Grup Yorum members. The protesters chanted outside the courthouse “Grup Yorum is the people itself. They cannot be silenced.”

Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) President Erol Ekici was also among the protesting group. He said detentions, suppression and threats would not be able to stop their fight against injustice and corruption. “They want to silence Grup Yorum because the band supports many people, from workers to residents of shanty houses. The [police] operation against the band and ÇHD lawyers is unjust,” he claimed.

Also in the early morning hours of Monday, 26 suspects were sent to a prosecutor’s office in İstanbul for an in depth interrogation by prosecutors while 17 other suspects were sent to a prosecutor’s office in İzmir. In İzmir, the suspects resisted police as they boarded a bus to take them to court. It was not immediately clear if the suspects were released or sent to court for arrest.

The prosecutors in İstanbul requested the arrest of 10 of the suspects, and the court ruled to arrest nine of them, all lawyers, while one was released pending trial. The lawyer who was released was identified as Efkan Bolaç.

The ÇHD released a statement in which it said the police operation was targeting the association, not the DHKP/C. “We do not accept the accusations directed at us. We will continue to wait in front of the courthouse until all of our friends are set free. All accusations concerning the personalities and political views of members of our association are false,” read the statement.

HRAA will try to continue to monitor the process with attention and sensitivity.

The Board of HRAA