The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing and continuing judicial harassment of Eren Keskin, a human rights lawyer 1For almost thirty years, Eren Keskin has contributed to the protection of minority rights, countered violence against women, and campaigned to challenge militarism and end torture. She is the founder of a legal office providing pro bono services for transgender persons and women who were raped or sexually abused by the national security forces.[/efn_] and the co-president of the Human Rights Association (İHD). Eren Keskin is the winner of multiple international awards for her peace and human rights work, including the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award, and was a finalist of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2019.
On April 14, 2022, the Istanbul Regional Court of Appeal Number 27 upheld the sentence of six years and three months in prison for "membership to an armed group" (Article 314/2 of the Criminal Code) handed down against Eren Keskin by the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court on February 15, 2021 in the Özgür Gündem trial. Ms. Keskin’s lawyers appealed this decision before the Court of Cassation (Yargıtay) and she remains free pending trial.
The sentences of the three other defendants convicted in first instance in the same case have also been upheld. Journalists Messrs. Inan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı were sentenced to six years and three months under the charge of "membership to an armed organisation", and Mr. Bilir Kaya was sentenced to one year and 13 months in prison on the allegation of "propaganda".
The Observatory recalls that since 2016, Eren Keskin has been facing charges for “disrupting the unity of the state”, “incitement to commit crime”, “membership to a terrorist organisation”, “terrorist propaganda” and “publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organisations” in relation to articles published in the closed newspaper Özgür Gündem, a symbol of Kurdish media. The newspaper was shut down by the Emergency Decree no. 675 on October 29, 2016 over “terrorist propaganda” allegations.
The Observatory further recalls that, on June 28, 2021, Eren Keskin was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office on Terrorism-Related Crimes for interrogation in another case in relation to the reading of a press statement denouncing the dismissal of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) mayors back in 2019. On February 17,2022, the Tunceli Assize Court ordered Ms. Keskin acquittal in this case.
The Observatory finally recalls that Ms. Keskin has been continuously judicially harassed and intimidated for years because of her peaceful human rights activities and exercise of freedom of expression.
The Observatory condemns the sentencing and ongoing judicial harassment of Eren Keskin, Inan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Bilir Kaya, and urges the authorities of Turkey to drop all charges against them and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Turkey.
Paris-Geneva, April 20, 2022
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: email@example.com
• Tel FIDH: + 33 (1) 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
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 Eren Keskin, Inan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Bilir Kaya, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Drop all charges against Eren Keskin, Inan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Bilir Kaya, and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all human rights lawyers and defenders in Turkey, and ensure 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. Bekir Bozdağ. Email: email@example.com.
• Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
• Ambassador Mr. 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.