Turkey: IBAHRI and ICJ observe criminal trial on ‘Gezi Park’ protests

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have jointly sent international observers to attend the first hearing of the criminal trial on the ‘Gezi Park’ protests at Silivri Prison Courthouse in Istanbul, scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 June 2019. The international observers who will be in attendance are Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA and Justice Ketil Lund, former judge of the Supreme Court of Norway and ICJ Commissioner.

Dr Ellis and Justice Lund will be observing a trial hearing before Istanbul 30th Assize Court with principal defendant Osman Kavala and 15 others: Ali Hakan Altinay, Ayse Mücella Yapici, Ayse Pinar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çigdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yilmaz, Handan Meltem Arikan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoglu, Inanç Ekmekci, Memet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Serafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yigit Aksakoglu and Yigit Ali Ekmekçi. The observers will report directly to the IBAHRI and ICJ secretariats on the proceedings following the mission.

turkey protests

The Gezi Park protests began in May 2013 as an effort by a group of environmentalists to save a park in central Istanbul from being rezoned, but soon grew into nationwide demonstrations. Police quelled the protests in Taksim Square with the use of tear gas and water cannons. Following a six-year investigation into the events, the 657-page indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office was accepted by the 30th Assize Court in Istanbul on 4 March 2019.

The defendants are to be charged under Article 312 of the Turkish Criminal Code (attempt to overthrow the Turkish government or attempt to prevent it from fulfilling its duties), Article 151 (damage to property), Article 152 (qualified damage to property), Article 174 (possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission), Article 153 (damaging places of worship and cemeteries), Article 149 (qualified robbery), Article 86 (intentional injury); crimes under the Law on Firearms, Knives and Other Tools No 6136 and crimes under the Law on Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets No 2863. The total sentence asked for by the prosecution for these offences amounts to approximately 47,520 years’ imprisonment.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  2. Since 1952 the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has performed a unique and prominent role as a nongovernmental organization defending human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

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