Opposition parties have expressed their fury at the arrests of nine lawyers, including Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) head Selçuk Kozağaçlı, yesterday for their alleged links with the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
Along with Kozağaçlı, ÇHD Istanbul department head Taylan Tanay, ÇHD members Avni Güçlü Sevimli, Ebru Timtik, Barkın Timtik, Naciye Demir, Şükriye Erdem, Nazan Betül Vangölü Kozağaçlı and Günay Dağ were also arrested yesterday “for being members of terrorist organization.” All nine are members of the ÇHD and were handling cases related to human rights breaches. The court decided to release lawyer Efkan Bolaç.
Protests against arrests
On Jan. 20, lawyers Dağ and Gülvin Aydın had been released after being taken to Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse. ÇHD members held protests against the arrests yesterday, while opposition parties described them as “intimidation both for lawyers dealing with human rights breaches and for citizens.”
The lawyers and other were taken into custody after anti-terror police raided dozens of apartments and offices on the morning of Jan. 18 in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, detaining 63 individuals suspected of “terrorism,” including activist lawyers and musicians. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mahmut Tanal said the detained lawyers worked on some of Turkey’s most controversial human rights abuse incidents, including the case of Engin Çeber, who died due to the torture in prison in 2008, and Festus Okey, a Nigerian citizen shot dead while in custody in 2007.
“This is an attempt to put lawyers on trial for artificial links with terror organizations. This is intimidation for all lawyers and citizens. Accusations and questions addressed to the lawyers show that there’s no legal protection for citizens in Turkey,” Tanal told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
“The first message given to lawyers is that lawyers defending the suspects of [alleged terrorist] organizations could be put on trial for links with the same organizations. The
second message is that participation in public demonstrations could be considered evidence of being a member of an illegal organization. They intend to spread fear among society with these detentions.”
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said the lawyers had been ill-treated during the custody period. “Those lawyers were detained just because of their professional activities. There’s no convincing evidence for their detention,” Kaplan told the Daily News. Another CHP lawmaker, İlhan Cihaner, said the ÇHD lawyers particularly focused on defending helpless people.