The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the provisional release of Mr. Raci Bilici, Vice-President of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Chairperson of IHD Diyarbakır.
According to the information received, on March 21, 2017, Mr. Raci Bilici was interrogated by the Public Prosecutor in the morning, before being heard by the Criminal Peace Judge on Duty in Diyarbakır in the afternoon. The court decided to release Mr. Raci Bilici on condition of judicial control. As a consequence, Mr. Raci Bilici is subjected to a travel ban and must check once a week at Diyarbakır’s police station.
The Public Prosecutor announced that he would pursue an investigation under the Anti-Terrorism Law (Law 3713 of April 1991) for Mr. Bilici’s alleged “relations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” punished by Article 314 of the Penal Code and submit an indictment to the court. The exact reasons for the charges remain unclear as the content of the case file remains confidential including for his lawyer pursuant to the Article 153.2 of the Turkish Criminal Code Procedure (No. 5271).
The Observatory recalls in particular that the Anti-Terrorism Law has been repeatedly used by the authorities as a tool to harass and imprison human rights defenders.
Mr. Raci Bilici’s arrest took place against the background of an increased repression against those who have expressed critical views of the current administration, including human rights defenders, following the July 15, 2016, failed coup, and in a particularly tense political climate, ahead of the constitutional referendum set to take place on April 16, 2017.
The Observatory fears that IHD’s monitoring of human rights violations triggered the arrest of Mr. Raci Balici. Indeed, IHD had recently provided information for a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) exposing human rights violations in South-East Turkey in relation to security operations conducted by the Turkish authorities between July 2015 and December 2016. IHD’s inputs have been crucial, since the OHCHR had been refused access by the Turkish authorities to the South-East region to investigate into allegations of massive destructions, killings and other serious human rights violations.
The Observatory welcomes the provisional release of Mr. Raci Bilici but condemns the harassment, including at the judicial level, targeting him and which only aims at sanctioning to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to end all forms of harassment against Mr. Raci Bilici and to lift the travel ban in force against him.
This press release was published on OMCT's website on March 24, 2017.