The Observatory has been informed about the threats and acts of harassment against human rights lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut in relation to his work in defense of the Kurdish Dedeoğlu family, which was targeted by a racist attack that left them heavily injured in Konya on May 12, 2021. On July 30, 2021, seven members of the family were killed, four men and three women, and their house was set on fire.
In the days following the killings, Abdurrahman Karabulut, who is representing the Dedeoğlu family in the case concerning the May 12 attack, issued several statements on Twitter, stating that his clients were victims of a hate crime based on racism against Kurdish people . As a result, in the days following the massacre, Mr. Karabulut faced targeted harassment and was accused of “provocation” by social media users, who called on the Konya Bar Association to “act upon [Mr. Karabulut’s] statements”.
On July 30, 2021, in reaction to the outrage on social media following the killings, Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu stated that the attack was a result of personal animosity and that any categorisation of it as a hate crime was a “provocation”. On the same day, Presidency’s Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun stated on Twitter that “The propaganda that this murder, this brutal massacre was committed with ideological motives is completely provocation, a lie.” On July 31, 2021, the Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying that “The allegations that the act was racially motivated do not reflect the truth”.
On August 3, 2021, while Abdurrahman Karabulut attended his clients’ funeral, his law office received a threatening anonymous phone call. The caller, speaking to Mr. Karabulut’s assistant, stated that “[he] will appear before [Mr. Karabulut] soon and make himself known to [Mr. Karabulut]” and yelled “dishonorable, fascist dogs” before the assistant ended the call.
On August 9, 2021, Abdurrahman Karabulut filed a criminal complaint with the Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s office for insult and threat due to public service. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, no investigation had been undertaken in this case. On August 11, 2021, Mr. Karabulut also asked the Konya Governor’s office for close protection measures but these were initially denied. Mr. Karabulut objected to the Governor’s decision, who eventually granted him with close protection as of August 18, 2021.
The Observatory condemns the threats and acts of harassment against Abdurrahman Karabulut and urges the authorities of Turkey to carry out an investigation into these threats and to ensure his 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 Abdurrahman Karabulut, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey, especially minority rights defenders with a special focus on those working on Kurdish issues;
ii. Carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the threats against Abdurrahman Karabulut in order to identify those responsible and sanction them in accordance with the law;
iii. Ensure that an end be put to all acts of harassment against Abdurrahman Karabulut, 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;
iv. Ensure that minority rights are respected and implemented in the country and take all necessary measures to put an end to all racist and discriminatory attacks, in particular against the Kurdish people.
• 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 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.