https://ahvalnews.com/-The head of a Turkish human rights organization resigned on Wednesday following a report detailing torture by Ankara police officers.
Riza Türmen, the leader of the Human Rights Center in Ankara and a former judge on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), confirmed to Ahval News that he is stepping down from his position. With Türmen’s departure, the number of resignations from the Human Rights Center has grown to six individuals as a result of the deepening scandal.
The debate was sparked after the Ankara Bar Association, the mother entity for the Human Rights Center, censored a report prepared by the lawyers of the Human Rights Centre of the that investigated the allegations that the suspects detained over alleged membership of the Gülen Movement were tortured at Ankara Security Directorate.
Ankara designates the Gülen movement, led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, a terrorist organisation over the group’s alleged involvement in the failed July 15, 2016, putsch to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gülen, a former ally of Erdoğan, denies all accusations of involvement.
After it was revealed that the Ankara Bar Association had worked to prevent the publication of a report, five of its lawyers who worked for the Human Rights Center announced that they would be resigning. Turmen’s resignation is the highest ranking departure since the scandal began.
The lawyers that chose to resign stated that the decision not to publish the torture report was the “last straw” that pushed them out the door. Several had already been involved in cases that pushed them to consider leaving including the crackdown on the Saturday Mothers, a peace movement seeking the whereabouts of their loved one who disappeared following the May 1980 coup d’teat.
Other were incensed by the decision to ignore the rulings of the ECHR that Turkey falls under the jurisdiction of. The ECHR has ordered that Turkey release political prisoners such a civil society activist Osman Kavala and Selahattain Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
Kemal Koranel, the head of the Ankara Bar Association, has denied all allegations that his organisation covered up the report.
“We have done our part about human rights and freedoms. We have filed a criminal complaint to the prosecutor’s office regarding the allegations of torture upon the related report. Our Human Rights Center has prepared 13 similar reports so far. Only one of them has been published. We do not have a procedure [stipulating] publication in our directives,” Koranel declared in a statement.