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UA 450/94 - Turkey: prisoners of conscience: Mahmut Sakar, Nimetullah Gunduz, Abdullah Cager (members of Diyarbakir branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association - HRA); Sedat Aslantas (former president, Diyarbakir HRA, Mahmut Akkurt; Yavuz Onen, preside

, N° d'index: EUR 44/157/1994

The first three men named above, prominent human rights lawyers, have been imprisoned pending trial, for publishing a report on human rights violations in southeast Turkey. AI considers them to be prisoners of conscience. The next two, Sedat Aslantas and Mahmut Akkurt, are now serving prison sentences for their activities in defence of human rights. Yavuz Onen and Fevzi Argun are at present on trial for alleged "separatism", relating to a report they published about torture in Turkey since 1980. Verdicts are expected in January 1995 in trials against Akin Birdal and Husnu Ondul, in respect of their publications on human rights.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 44/157/94
Distr: UA/SC
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
halted.
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
2
are expected in January 1995 in trials against the Ak_n Birdal and Hüsnü Öndül,
in respect of their publications on human rights issues.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Founded in 1986, the HRA has 56 branches throughout the country and a membership
of 15,000. The HRA is not linked to any political party or movement. As well
as monitoring abuses by government forces, the HRA has on numerous occasions
condemned human rights abuses by armed opposition groups. A sister organization,
the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), runs three treatment centres for
torture survivors in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul, and a documentation centre
in Ankara.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Turkish Human
Rights Association officials Mahmut _akar, Nimetullah Gündüz, and Abdullah
Ça_er, who are currently held in Diyarbak_r E-type Prison, pending trial.
- stating that these human rights defenders are imprisoned for expressing their
non-violent opinions, and are therefore prisoners of conscience held in
violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which
safeguards the right to freedom of expression;
- pointing out that Turkey is a State Party to the European Convention on Human
Rights;
- expressing concern at the increasing number of human rights activists
imprisoned (for example, Sedat Aslanta_ and Mahmut Akkurt), or threatened with
imprisonment (Yavuz Önen, Fevzi Argun, Ak_n Birdal and Hüsnü Öndül);
- calling for Article 8 of the Anti-Terror to be repealed or amended as a matter
of urgency.
APPEALS TO
Please send appeals to one or more of the following, who are among those members
of parliament who have opposed reform of the Anti-Terror Law which might have
halted the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience:
1. Necmettin Erbakan, leader of Refah (Welfare Party)
2. Mesut Y_lmaz, leader of ANAP (Motherland Party)
3. Alparslan Türke_, leader, MHP (Nationalist Action Party)
4. Baki Tu_, True Path Party (DYP)
5. Co_kun K_rca, True Path Party (DYP)
6. Ya_ar Topçu, True Path Party
7. Oltan Sungurlu, ANAP
Parliament address:
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi
Ankara
Turkey
Faxes: +90 312 420 5165 or +90 312 420 6941
Telegrams: (MP's name), TBMM, Ankara, Turkey
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of Justice:
Mr Mehmet Mo_ultay
Adalet Bakanl___
3
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: +90 312 417 3954
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Hürriyet (Newspaper)
Bab_ali Cad. 15/17
Posta Kodu 34360
Ca_alo_lu-_stanbul, Turkey
and to diplomatic representatives of Turkey accredited to your country.
You may also send copies of your appeals, and best wishes to the prisoners:
Av Mahmut _akar, Av Nimetullah Gündüz, Av Abdullah Ça_er
Diyarbak_r E-tipi Cezaevi, 31. Ko_u_, Diyarbak_r, Turkey.
Av Sedat Aslanta_
Ankara Merkez Kapal_ Cezaevi, Ankara, Turkey
Av Mahmut Akkurt
Kepsut Cezaevi, Kepsut, Bal_kesir, Turkey
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your office, if sending appeals after 15 February 1995.

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