BİA (Istanbul) – The Human Rights Agenda Association (IHDG) has issued a statement following an attack on human rights activists, academics and observers during a promotional press conference in Istanbul for Turkey’s Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) new book on enforced internal migration, demanding the Istanbul Bar Association to take necessary action against those responsible.
Both Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER) have strongly condemned the attack that took place during TESEV’s July 6 press conference in Istanbul to promote the new book “Coming Face to Face with Enforced [Internal] Migration: The Construction of Citizenship in Turkey After Being Displaced”.
The conference was disrupted when a group of protestors interrupted the event first with verbal abuse then attempted to physically attack those attending it.
Ramazan Bakkal and Ramazak Kirkik, both previously seen in many incidents accompanying attorney Kemal Kerincsiz, a leading member of the right-wing organisation of lawyers who call themselves “The Unity of Jurists”, were among the group but the only individual police detained during the incident was someone else.
The attack was later attributed to the “Kerincsiz group” in the media while a statement by the IHD identified the group involved in this attack as the so-called Unity of Civilian Society Institutions.
IHDG: Bar Association should act
The IHDG’s statement said “the person who directs this group that the public sees to be frequently attacking human rights activists is a person who, from the print press, we know is a member of the lawyer profession” without openly naming Kerincsiz.
Noting that the interventions targeting human rights activists were against the Rules of Profession for lawyers the IHGD said that the Bar Association should use the rights granted to it by law and take all measures for the rules to be applied.
Article 76 of the Solicitors Law states that bar associations “are obliged with the duty to defend and protect human rights” while article 95 cites defending, protecting and implementing the supremacy of law and human rights among the Bar Association Executive Board’s primary duties, the Association recalled.
“A Bar Association that sees any of its members in acts that are in direct contrast to these purposes should use the rights granted to it under the law and take all required measures” the statement said.
The scheduled press conference on enforced migration and the new publication had to be postponed as result of the disruption.
IHD and MAZLUMDER condemn attack
In their condemnation of the attack both IHD and MAZLUMDER stressed that those behind it aimed to provoke intolerance to diversity and diverse views and argued that they were being protected.
“It is now very evident” said the IHD, “that this group has now targeted civilian institutions”. The association stressed that an “extreme tolerance” shown to this group by security forces despite their actions needed to be taken into account and added “The increase of attacks and harassment of these groups which we believe are being organised and financed by circles of power is due to the discomfort they feel over the possible atmosphere of dialogue that may come to being in the land we live upon”.
MAZLUMDER, meanwhile, described the incident as “Fascism” in its own statement and said Turkey needed to come face to face with the realities of enforced internal migration saying this was the expectation of those who supported public peace as well as a duty of those who claimed to be a democratic state.
Kerincsiz and the “Unity of Jurists” are renown in Turkey through their increasing interventions targeting human rights activists, jurists, intellectuals, writers and academics. They are also responsible for filing a series of criminal complaints at Turkish courts to impose punishment on writers and journalists as well as appearance at their trials were hearings have been disrupted.
Among the so-called Unity of Civilian Society Institutions members blamed for the recent attack were Ramazan Bakkal, Ramazan Kirkik, Aynur Atabozkurt, Zeynep Gurk and Ayse Ay who have been seen together with Kerincsiz in past activities.
Another person identified in the recent disruption was Muammer Kocadagli, who was detained briefly after an attack on an old woman criticising their protest of the visit of head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II to the Heybeliada (Khalki) Island last month. (TK/KO/II/YE)