All charges against Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chair of Turkey’s most prominent human rights organisation and a respected lawyer, should be immediately dropped, Amnesty International said today ahead of the start of his trial tomorrow.
Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chair of the Human Rights Association (IHD), faces baseless charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”, “insulting a public official” and “insulting the Turkish nation and the Turkish state” for public statements he made in relation to his association’s human rights work.
“The prosecution of Öztürk Türkdoğan is an undisguised attack on this one human rights defender and also on all those who speak out for human rights in Turkey,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research for Europe.
“With these spurious charges against the co-chair of Turkey’s longest-standing human rights organisation, the prosecuting authorities send a chilling message that increases the climate of intense fear among Turkey’s already beleaguered human rights community.”
According to IHD’s records, over 200 separate criminal investigations and prosecutions of IHD members and elected representatives of the organization are ongoing across Turkey.
“The criminalization of human rights defenders and of the Human Rights Association are the true insults here. The authorities’ unrelenting attack on Öztürk Türkdoğan and Turkey’s civil society movement has to end,” said Julia Hall.
“Turkey must immediately drop all charges against Öztürk Türkdoğan and create an enabling, protective environment for civil society in line with its obligations under international human rights law.”
In December 2021, the Turkish authorities initiated three separate prosecutions against Öztürk Türkdoğan.
He was tried under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code allegedly for “insulting” a public official in a statement published on the IHD website on 29 June 2018. The first hearing of this prosecution, in which the Minister of Interior is the alleged victim, was held on 18 February 2022. The next hearing will be held on 11 May.
He was also charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” under Article 314/2 of the penal code after the authorities detained him and searched his home on 19 March 2021. During the search, his phone and laptop were confiscated. The first hearing for this case will take place on 22 February 2022.
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