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Secretary General expresses concerns over situation in Turkey in call to Prime Minister

Secretary General Strasbourg 20 July 2017
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Thorbjørn Jagland

Thorbjørn Jagland

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has released the following statement:

"Yesterday evening, I had a phone conversation with Mr Binali Yıldırım, Prime Minister of Turkey, to discuss the latest developments in the country.

One year after the attempted coup, I told him that this event should be remembered for what it was: an unacceptable attack on a democratically elected government and one of the most serious challenges to Turkish democracy in its history.

I then shared my deep concerns over the situation of Nuriye Gülmen (an academic) and Semih Özakça (a teacher). Both are kept in pre-trial detention and are now in considerable ill health due to their ongoing hunger strike. I had previously called for their release and continue to do so.

But I also appeal to Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça to stop their hunger strike. I want them to be assured that their voices have been heard. They now need to be in good health to effectively defend their rights.

I furthermore appeal to all those who are close to Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça to help them bring their hunger strike to an end.

I also shared my most serious concerns as regards  the imprisonment, pending trial, of highly respected and well-known Human Rights defenders on 18 July, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser, and two trainers from Germany and Sweden for, allegedly, having given support to a terrorist organisation.

I told the Prime Minister that it is a well-established principle of the Council of Europe, confirmed by the case-law of the Strasbourg Court, that human rights defenders should be able to fulfill their activities freely without being subject to arbitrary interferences by the authorities. Such grave accusations as terrorism-related offences should be backed by serious and concrete evidence so as not to create an atmosphere of arbitrariness leading to fear, self-censorhip and a chilling effect within Turkish civil society.

The Turkish judiciary should apply the principles set in the case-law of the Strasbourg Court as regards pre-trial detention. 

Lastly, we discussed the new Commission entitled to review measures adopted under the state of emergency decree-laws. The Commission started receiving applications last Monday and will hopefully offer redress to all those who are seeking justice.

Taking into account the particularly worrying health situation of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, I mentioned to the Prime Minister the importance for the Commission to deal with their cases as a matter of priority."


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