The Observatory has been informed about the attack against lawyers Harika Günay Karataş, member of the Hakkari Bar Association and of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Özgürlük için Hukukçular Derneği-ÖHD), and Tevfik Gündüz, also a member of the Hakkari Bar Association.
On August 23, 2021, Harika Günay Karataş and Tevfik Gündüz filed a criminal complaint with the Yüksekova Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on grounds of deprivation of liberty, insult, threat and misuse of public duty, after being assaulted by soldiers at the Yüksekova District Gendarmerie Command in Hakkari. An investigation has been launched following the complaint.
On August 20, 2021, Harika Günay Karataş was aggressively challenged at the Yüksekova District Gendarmerie in Hakkari as she was to participate to the statement taking of her client, a member of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) detained on the same day as part of crackdown operations on the HDP.
As she awaited the statement of her client, Ms. Karataş was summoned to the commander’s office, where a man in plain-clothes, claiming to be the commander, verbally attacked her, accusing her of causing disturbance. As she replied, he grabbed her arm, preventing her from leaving. Tevfik Gündüz, also present at the Yüksekova District Gendarmerie to see his client, heard the altercation, came to the entrance of the room to intervene and was in turn physically assaulted and held outside. Harika Günay Karataş was then able to leave accompanied by Tevfik Gündüz, while being verbally and physically assaulted by the alleged commander and soldiers.
The Hakkari Bar Association, the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Özgürlük için Hukukçular Derneği-ÖHD), and the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği-İHD) Hakkari held a meeting following the attack. It was decided that the Hakkari Bar Association voluntarily would shut down its OCAS (Otomatik CMK Atama Sistemi-Automatic Criminal Procedure Code Appointment System, used to appoint public defenders) for 24 hours to protest this attack. The statements of the members of the HDP were resumed on August 21, 2021, in the presence of other lawyers, members of Hakkari Bar Association Board.
The Observatory condemns the attacks against human rights lawyers Tevfik Gündüz and Harika Günay Karataşand urges the authorities in Turkey to ensure their physical integrity and psychological well-being as well as that of 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 Tevfik Gündüz and Harika Günay Karataş,as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the attacksagainst Tevfik Gündüz and Harika Günay Karataşand sanction those responsible in accordance with the law;
iii. Ensure that an end be put to all acts of harassment against Tevfik Gündüz and Harika Günay Karataş, and all human rights defenders in Turkey and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals.
• President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül. Email: email@example.com.
• Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
• Ambassador Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
• Ambassador Mr. Sadık Arslan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.