To International Public Opinion:
In the early hours of the morning of 24 December 2009, Mr. Muharrem Erbey – Vice President of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (İHD) and President of the İHD’s branch office in Diyarbakır – was detained by Anti-Terror Units of the Diyarbakır Security Directorate as part of an operation launched simultaneously in 11 provinces of Turkey. The stated reason for Mr. Erbey’s detention was his alleged membership of the KCK [Kurdish Communities Union], an organization said to be the ‘urban branch’ of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was arrested on the same charge on 25 December 2009 and is currently being held in Diyarbakır D-Type prison awaiting trial, although no lawsuit has been opened against him yet.
We’re writing to express our grave concern about the imprisonment of Mr. Erbey and to appeal for international action to secure his release. Mr. Erbey is regarded both in Turkey and internationally for his work as a human rights lawyer and defender. In recent years he’s focused especially on getting to the bottom of unresolved cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the region. As a result of his standing he’s in constant demand from national and international media outlets and international organizations looking for an independent view on the human rights situation in Turkey. In our view his imprisonment is a monumental loss, represents a grave escalation of state repression of the human rights movement in Turkey and demands a vigorous international response.
During his interrogation, Mr. Erbey was asked extensively about his work with the İHD, including several international visits he’s conducted in order to draw attention to human rights abuses in the region. However, his lawyers are being prevented from accessing his case file and as such cannot know the exact charges or the evidence on which they are based. Going by the record of Mr. Erbey’s interrogation, however, it appears to us that he has been imprisoned on the basis of his work with the Human Rights Association – the oldest and largest organization of its kind in Turkey – and in his capacity as a human rights lawyer. More informaton on the circumstances of his arrest and the charges facing him can be found in the documents attached to this message.
Similar charges as those against Mr. Erbey have been used as a pretext to repress those working for basic human rights in Turkey (and indeed the world) for many years. Mr. Erbey completely rejects the charges against him and, as his colleagues, so do we. His arrest is an attempt to intimidate and harass human rights defenders in Turkey, a violation of the UN resolution on the protection of human rights defenders.
We call on international civil society, international human rights organizations, diplomats and people of consciece everywhere to write to the Turkish authorities expressing concern over Mr. Erbey’s arrest and appealing for his immediate release. The contact information for the Turkish Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, Prime Ministry, and Diyarbakır Provincial Governorship are listed below Please contact them at the earliest possible date and inform the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association of any actions you take at <[email protected]>
Attached to this email is a dossier which contains the following:
1) The record from Mr. Erbey’s interrogation by the public prosecutor (p.3);2) The objection to Mr. Erbey’s arrest filed by his lawyers (p.5);3) The objection to illegal search and confiscations carried out at Diyarbakır İHD on the day of Mr. Erbey’s detention, filed by Mr. Erbey’s lawyers (p.7);4) A copy of Mr. Erbey’s CV and a list of threats and repression he’s been subjected to in recent times (p.9);5) A press statement from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders about Mr. Erbey’s situation (p.11);6) A press statement from the General Headquarters of the İHD about Mr. Erbey’s situation (p.12);7) A press statement from Diyarbakır İHD concerning Mr. Erbey’s detention and the search and confiscation procedures carried out at our office (p.13);
8) A document which introduces the İHD and describes its work (p.14).
We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to your response.
Serdar Çelebi, Attorney at Law
Rehşan Bataray, Attorney at Law
In the name of the Steering Committee of the Diyarbakır İHD, the İHD Central Executive Board, and Muharrem Erbey’s Defense Counsel
Diyarbakir İHD Office Phone (not answered by English speakers): +90-507-213-5268
An English-speaking volunteer at Diyarbakır İHD can be reached at: +90-535-654-6179
* PLEASE SEND YOUR APPEALS TO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES AND BE SURE TO WRITE THE ADDRESSES IN TURKISH, AS BELOW. LETTERS CAN BE SENT IN ENGLISH, TURKISH OR ANY OTHER LANGUAGE. PLEASE NOTIFY US OF ANY ACTIONS YOU TAKE AT <[email protected]>
Prime Minister’s Office of the Republic of Turkey
Sn. Başbakan Recept Tayyip ERDOĞANVekaletler Cadd. Başbakanlık Merkez Bina P.K. 06573Bakanlıklar / AKARA,
Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Turkey
Sn. Ahmet DAVUTOĞLU, Dışişleri BakanıT.C. Dışişleri BakanlığıDr. Sadık Ahmet Cad. No:8 Balgat / ANKARA 06100
Interior Ministry of the Republic of Turkey
Sn. Beşir ATALAY, İçişleri BakanıT.C. İçişleri Bakanlık
Bakanlıklar / ANKARA
Justice Ministry of the Republic of Turkey
Sn. Sadullah ERGİN, Adalet BakanıT.C. Adalet Bakanlığı06669 Kızılay / ANKARA
Diyabakır Provincial Governorship
Sn. Hüseyin Avni MUTLU, Diyarbakır ValisiDiyarbakır Valiliği Yenişehir / DİYARBAKIR