Turkey: message of solidarity to Osman İşçi

Shrinking Space for Civil Society, Statement, Turkey

Read in:  French 

Read joint NGO Submission to the Universal Periodic Review

On the occasion of our meeting of 18-20 October 2019 in Brussels, we, members of EuroMed Rights Executive Committee, want to express our deep concerns about the judicial harassment faced by our colleague and friend, Mr Osman İşçi, Secretary General of the Human Rights Association (IHD), member of the trade-union Eğitim Sen, and member of our Committee from 2012 to 2018. Osman was arrested in 2012 on bogus charges of “being a member of an illegal organisation” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Code, spending ten months in pre-trial detention. The legal proceedings that started in 2013 are still ongoing.

Ahead of the 14th hearing due to take place on 23 October 2019 at Sıhhıye Courthouse in Ankara, we want to stress once again our solidarity and support to Osman and to all human rights defenders in Turkey. We denounce the unlawful abuse of the judiciary in Turkey as a tool to silence and intimidate human rights defenders, openly violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 14§(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Since the attempted coup in July 2016, the space for human rights defenders and civil society organisations has shrunk: the authorities have shut down thousands of NGOs on fabricated charges of supporting terrorism. Further, they have adopted a political approach “us vs. them” aimed at polarising the whole society. In such a climate, the judiciary has been used by the government to silence dissenting voices, with unjustified legal proceedings and misuse of antiterror legislation. Osman’s case is, sadly, an emblematic example of the difficult conditions in which human rights defenders are fighting for fundamental freedoms in the country.

Besides the judicial harassment they face, Osman and other human rights defenders in Turkey are confronted with its consequences on their daily lives, depriving them and their families of incomes, social rights and right to freedom of movement.

These human rights violations are described, along with other abuses, in the report that EuroMed Rights publishes today on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Turkey, ahead of Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, in January 2020.