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10 October 2004 GIYAV members acquitted, but...
According to a press release from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, FIDH and OMCT, the Adana State Security Court acquitted GIYAV members for violating article 169 and ordered that legal and administrative documents confiscated earlier this year by the Public Prosecutor be given back to the organisation. Indeed, due to the change brought by Article 2 of Law N?4928 (6th harmonization package) to article 169 of the TPC (deleting the statement & and facilitates its actions in any wayfrom the text), Turkish courts are no longer able to charge and condemn people on the basis of article 169 for giving presentations in panels, signing/distributing petitions, using the expression Kurdish mother tongue or denouncing violations. However, seven GIYAV members ie. Mustafa Erdo?lu, Kadir Arikan, Hikmet ?zcan, Mehmet Barut, Ayse Baka?, Remzi Erkut and ?mer Do?an, who were members of GIYAV executive board in April 2002, when the judicial proceeding was opened will be referred to the Mersin Penal Court of first instance on the basis of article 312/1 of TPC (praising a crime).[2] The Observatory and the EMHRN welcome the acquittal of GIYAV members. However our organisations are worried about the continuation of judicial proceedings against seven of the organisations members. Furthermore, our organisations are concerned that Article 312 of the TPC may now be used as a way to get round the amendments made to Article 169, with the aim to go on targeting human rights defenders. We are worried that this might be the case in the coming trial of the seven GIYAV members as well as in other pending trials in Turkey. The use made of the possibilities to circumvent these recent legal changes clearly shows their limitations. Our organisations are finally concerned by the fact that intelligence reports submitted by the prosecutor to the SSC have been used as evidence against the defendants. The Observatory and the EMHRN urge the Turkish authorities to: 1. drop the charges against the seven members of G?YAV before the Mersin Penal Court of first instance on the grounds of article 312/1 of the TPC, since they only aim at limiting their freedom of expression as human rights defenders ; 2. stop any kind of repression and judicial harassment against human rights defenders in Turkey, especially by using Article 312 to silence any person, who advocates for a democratic, political and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question; 3. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General assembly on December 9, 1998; 4. urgently to comply with the accession criteria to join the European Union by implementing the recently adopted legislative reforms without delay. Press contact : The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH / OMCT): Elsa Le Pennec : 00 90 544 29 041 86 - The EMHRN: Marit Floe Joergensen, mfj@euromedrights.net . Tel: +45 32 69 89

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