EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 44/157/94
UA 450/94 Prisoners of conscience 22 December 1994
TURKEYMahmut _akar, lawyer, secretary of Diyarbakir branch of the Turkish Human
Rights Association (HRA)
Nimetullah Gündüz, lawyer, board member of Diyarbak_r HRA
Abdullah Ça_er, lawyer, board member of Diyarbak_r HRA
Sedat Aslanta_, lawyer, former president of Diyarbak_r HRA
Mahmut Akkurt, lawyer
Yavuz Önen, President of Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV)
Fevzi Argun, board member of TIHV
Ak_n Birdal, National President of the HRA
Hüsnü Öndül, lawyer, HRA General Secretary
In a further grave setback to human rights in Turkey, three prominent human
rights lawyers have been imprisoned, pending trial, for publishing a report
on human rights violations in southeast Turkey. As trials of other leading
human rights defenders reach their final stages, Amnesty International is
urgently concerned that the persecution of such activists in Turkey must be
Mahmut _akar, Nimetullah Gündüz, and Abdullah Ça_er, all officials of the
Diyarbak_r branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association (HRA), were arrested
on 16 December 1994 and are now in custody, pending trial, at Diyarbak_r E-type
Prison. They are charged under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law which provides
for long terms of imprisonment for "separatist propaganda" irrespective of
whether the writings or speeches in question contain any advocacy of violence.
The Diyarbak_r HRA's report on violations in southeast Turkey was published
in November. On 13 December it was banned by Diyarbak_r State Security Court.
To Amnesty International's knowledge, the report contained no advocacy of
violence, and the organization considers the three lawyers to be prisoners
of conscience, detained in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention
on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to freedom of expression. Turkey
is a State Party to the Convention.
Several trials of human rights defenders are now reaching their final stages.
Sedat Aslanta_, arrested on 5 December 1994, has been sentenced to three years'
imprisonment under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law for a speech he made at
the HRA's congress in October 1992. He is currently being held in Ankara Closed
Prison. Mahmut Akkurt, arrested on 31 October 1994, has been sentenced to
14 months' imprisonment for a speech he made two years ago at a public meeting
when he was president of the Bal_kesir branch of the HRA. Mahmut Akkurt was
convicted under Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code for "praising a crime".
To Amnesty International's knowledge he did not advocate violence. He is
currently serving his sentence in Kepsut prison, Bal_kesir province.
Among the dozens of other human rights defenders, not currently in custody,
but on trial and threatened with imprisonment, are Yavuz Önen and Fevzi Argun.
Both are being prosecuted under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law by Ankara
State Security Court for alleged "separatism" in two sentences contained in
the TIHV publication Torture File 1980-1994, a comprehensive survey of torture
and deaths in custody since the military coup of September 1980. Verdicts