"> EMHRN calls for the immediate release of falsely accused Turkish HR activists

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November 4, 2011

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EMHRN calls for the immediate release of falsely accused Turkish HR activists 

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Copenhagen-Brussels–The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) condemns the arbitrary arrest of Human Rights defenders Ragib Zarakolu and Bü?ra Ersanl?, both falsely charged with “being a member of an illegal organisation”, the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).

On 28 October, 2011, Turkish authorities raided several offices of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the province of Istanbul and arrested prominent Human Right activists Ragib Zarakolu and Bü?ra Ersanl?, together with some fifty other people, mainly members and executives of the BDP.

This raid, a vast anti-terrorist operation allegedly aimed at dismantling the KCK -considered the urban branch of the armed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), constitutes a blatant attack on activists for their work on human rights and their attempts to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.  

Ragip Zarakolu is an Honorary Board member of the Human Rights Association (?nsan Haklari Derne?i – ?HD). He is also Director of the Belge Publishing House and Chairman of the Publishers Association Freedom to Publish Committee of Turkey, and a prominent human rights activist who has published extensively on human rights, national minorities, and the Armenian genocide. His arrest comes little after receiving the Hakop Meghapart Medal of Honour Lifetime Achievement Award from the Armenian Human Rights Association for his contribution to Armenian history, culture, and literature in Turkey. 

Bü?ra Ersanl?, a member of the Constitution Committee and the General Assembly of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), has worked with NGOs on women’s rights in the political sphere. In parallel, Ersanli works as a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations at Marmara University.

Both were charged on 1 November, 2011 for being members of an illegal organisation under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code by ?stanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 14, despite the fact that neither of them belong to the KCK.  Zarakolu and Ersanli are currently detained in separate prisons, and are granted access to their families and lawyers.    

The EMHRN condemns the continued policy of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders and activists in Turkey – in particular of IHD members, trade union members, and activists working on the Kurdish issue. 

The EMHRN recalls the detainment and arrests of dozens of human rights defenders on alleged terrorism charges, including Muharrem Erbey, IHD General Vice Chairperson who has been in pre-trial detainment since 2009.  

Moreover, the EMHRN calls upon the Turkish authorities to put an end to the current policy of harassment and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders in an effort to undermine their work. The EMHRN asks for the immediately release of Zarakolu and Ersanli, together with the other activists who have been arrested on false charges.

In light of the professional background of both Bü?ra Ersanl? and Ragip Zarakolu, the EMHRN further urges the Turkish authorities to implement international standards related to the right to freedom of association and to freedom of expression in Turkey without delay.  

For more information on the Human Rights situation in Turkey, please contact: Hayet Zeghiche at hze@euromedrights.net  (+ 32 2 503 58 87)

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