Court cases have been filed against the Human Rights Association (IHD) co-chair in Turkey over charges of ‘membership of an illegal organisation’ and ‘insulting Turkey, the Turkish nation and Turkish state institutions’.
Speaking at the press conference held at the IHD headquarters in Istanbul on Thursday, Hüsnü Öndül, a former chairperson of the organisation, emphasised that it was the first time since the 1990s that a chairperson of the IHD had been personally targeted by the judiciary. He said:
“Oppression by the political administration has been experienced at all times. But this is the first time a chairperson of the association has been personally confronted with such a legal process since the 1990s. These prosecutions against IHD co-chair Türkdoğan indicate that the IHD, one of the oldest and most influential human rights organisations in Turkey and the struggle for human rights, are tried to be subdued by means of the judiciary.”
It’s been stated at the press conference that there were reportedly three court cases initiated against Öztürk Türkdogan, the co-chair of IHD.
The first is over a public announcement by Türkdoğan on 15 February 2021, regarding a Turkish military operation in Garê, Iraqi Kurdistan, that left 13 civilians dead. The indictment alleges that Türkdoğan committed a crime as a member of an illegal organisation by making the announcement.
In the announcement, Türkdoğan had indicated that although they told Turkish authorities that they had earlier helped in bringing back captured Turkish soldiers and that they could do it again, this was totally ignored by the authorities, who refused to respond. Türkdoğan had stated that while the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was responsible for the lives of the individuals they had captured, the Turkish General Staff was responsible for the consequences of a risky military operation carried out an area where there were captives.
The Turkish minister of the interior, Süleyman Soylu, had later targeted IHD chairperson Türkdoğan, who was consequently taken into custody after his house was raided.
The second court case was initiated over announcements by the IHD on 24 April 2017 and 24 April 2018, calling upon the Turkish authorities to end the policy of denial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide that eradicated the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire.
The indictment alleges that law no. 301, which concerns degrading remarks about Turkey, the Turkish people, the institutions of the Turkish state and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, was violated.
The third court case is over an announcement by IHD, dated 29 June 2018, on the practices of the interior minister Süleyman Soylu. The indictment alleges that the honour and credibility of a public official were targeted by the announcement.
The first hearing session on the case concerning ‘illegal organisation membership is to take place in an Ankara court on 18 February.