The Observatory has been informed about the acquittal of Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp, a physician, member of the High Disciplinary Committee of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB)1 and a volunteer of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT)2.
On November 19, 2021, the Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court Number 10 announced the acquittal of Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp of the charges of “membership to an armed organisation” and “membership to a terrorist organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Criminal Code and Article 5/1 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, respectively) for lack of evidence. The Prosecutor objected to this acquittal, and consequently a court of second instance will review the objection.
The Observatory recalls that Dr. Gökalp was arrested on November 20, 2020 by the Turkish police within the scope of an investigation conducted by the Prosecutor's Office in Diyarbakır. On February 10, 2021, the Heavy Penal Court of Diyarbakir Number 10 ordered the release of Dr. Şeyhmus Gökalp after more than 80 days of pre-trial detention. On October 15, 2021, Dr. Gökalp appeared before the above-mentioned court to attend the second hearing in his case. The prosecutor presented his final argument and demanded that Dr. Gökalp be imprisoned between seven and 15 years on the grounds of “membership to an armed organisation” and “membership to a terrorist organisation”. Furthermore, the prosecutor did not take into consideration any of the arguments and evidence presented by defence lawyers over the previous years.
The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Dr. Gökalp but recalls that he should never have been arrested and subjected to judicial harassment in the first place, as he was prosecuted solely for his legitimate human rights work. Furthermore, the Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that physicians, TTB members and HRFT members and volunteers are being targeted because of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. These practices are used as a threat to civil society in conditions where the rule of law is inexistent, and the judiciary lacks independence.
The Observatory urges the Turkish authorities to stop using counter-terrorism legislation to target any dissenting voice and to immediately and unconditionally put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Turkey.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iii. Refrain from the practice of abusing anti-terrorism legislation for silencing dissent and crackdown on human rights activities.
- President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Email: email@example.com
- Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ambassador Mr. Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.