The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), a human rights lawyers’ organization in the Philippines, condemns the travesty of justice and the utter disregard for the rule of law in Turkey. From the 18th to the 20th of March 2019, the 37th High Criminal Court (Assize) of Istanbul, convicted 18 Turkish human rights lawyers to a total of 160 years imprisonment, including Selçuk Kozağaçlı, president of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) and a Bureau Member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), who were unjustly deprived of their right to present their defense at the proper time given that their requests have not been allegedly evaluated.
Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who was arrested without a warrant since November 2017 on terrorism charges, was handed down a sentence of 10 years and 5 months. He was a defender of the human rights of miners, and oppressed people in Turkey and in other countries, including the Philippines where he was a resource person in an international mining conference in 2016.
Since the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unleash a wave of terror against the Turkish people using the police, the military and the Courts of Justice. The attack included Turkish lawyers, and at least 1,546 lawyers including judges and justices, have been prosecuted, 599 have been arrested, and some are subjected to torture and ill-treatment just for defending their clients rights to a fair trial and for the exercise of their profession.
In a speech at the Ankara Bar Association’s general assembly on Oct. 16, 2016, Kozağaçlı revealed earlier, that people imprisoned as part of a government crackdown on the Gülen movement were being systematically tortured in the most barbaric ways including rape, removal of nails and the insertion of objects into their anuses.
The chilling effect of the oppressive attacks on lawyers and judges by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his state forces, have cowed the 37th High Criminal Court (Assize) of Istanbul into releasing an obviously compromised and cowardly decision against the accused lawyers,.
As defenders of human rights and the rule of law, we call on the international community of lawyers, jurists and human rights defenders to put a stop to these tyrannical acts of the Turkish government, and its hostaged judiciary, availing ourselves of all the legal and political resources at our disposal, in the local and international arena.
We join hands in solidarity with the Turkish lawyers, jurists and oppressed people. Your fight is our fight!
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
MARCH 23, 2019