In the early morning of 16 March, police raided the houses of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey. After the search, lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan and Mustafa Ruzgar were arrested They are all members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association (Ozgurlukcu Hukukcular Dernegi – OHD).
According to the information received, there has not been given any justification for these arrests and searches.
A couple of the lawyers that were arrested represent the 46 lawyers who were arrested in 2011 on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation”. The next hearing in this trial will take place on 17 March. L4L and Fair Trial Watch are in Istanbul to observe this hearing, as they have done with all the hearings in this case. We asked the former dean of Rotterdam to join the mission and monitor the hearings on behalf of the Dean’s of the Netherlands.
L4L is very worried about the continuing arrests of lawyers in Turkey, together with Fair Trial Watch, called on the Turkish authorities to immediately release the arrested lawyers.
Background of the case against 46 lawyers
On November 22, 2011, a broad campaign of arrests was launched in 16 cities targeting 46 lawyers, in the context of the case against the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK, Union of Communities in Kurdistan). The Turkish authorities regard the KCK as the local branch of the banned Kurdish labour party PKK. The majority of the suspected lawyers is (or was) involved in the defence of Abdullah Öcalan. According to the office of the prosecutor, the suspects have communicated instructions from Öcalan to his supporters. The lawyers are accused of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation.” It seems that those accusations are merely based on legitimate professional activities of the lawyers involved.
After the closure of the special courts and the lowering of the maximum period of pre-trial detention to five years, the last nine lawyers and a journalist were released on March 18, 2014, after spending almost 2 ½ years in pre-trial detention.