Turkey – Persecutions against Osman İşçi, member of EuroMed Rights’ Executive Committee

Alerts, Shrinking Space for Civil Society, Turkey

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EuroMed Rights strongly condemns the persecutions against Osman İşçi, EuroMed Rights’ Executive Committee member, and representative of the Human Rights Association in Turkey (IHD). Osman İşçi has just been dismissed from his position as associate professor and PhD researcher at the University of Ağri. This dismissal was officialised through the Statutory Decree No. 689, issued this Saturday 29 April 2017, a decree that fired 3,974 people from the public service.

Harassed for years in relation to his relentless commitment to the promotion of human rights, Osman İşçi’s latest “crime” (for which he is now being investigated and was suspended already in December 2016 from his work at Ağri university) was to have signed the Peace Petition, “We will not be a party to this crime”, along with another thousand academics, in January 2016, criticizing the government security policy in the Kurdish regions and the imposition of permanent curfews on entire cities[1].

His constant work in defence of freedom of association, freedom of expression and minorities’ rights, has been sanctioned by arbitrary imprisonment (between June 2012 and March 2013[2]), judicial harassment, and finally this dismissal from the public service. This latest measure is sweeping and disproportionate, as it bears, on top of losing his job, the loss of his social rights, the prohibition to work for the public service again, and the cancellation of his passport.

As the Venice Commission and the Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted in other similar cases[3], this measure is arbitrary as it is unfounded and not substantiated individually (a list of thousands of names is attached to a general decree). This decision is too far-reaching and impacts not only M. İşçi but also his family, by depriving him of his income, social rights and right to freedom of movement.

Osman İşçi is an emblematic case among hundreds of human rights defenders and peaceful opponents to authoritarianism in Turkey. As the board person in charge of international relations at both the IHD and his union confederation (KESK), for years he has travelled relentlessly to raise awareness abroad about the human rights situation in Turkey. Now this essential work has become impossible for him as he is arbitrarily deprived of his passport.

EuroMed Rights is deeply concerned by the deteriorating atmosphere in Turkey, where human rights are constantly violated. We are appalled by the drift of the State institutions further away from democracy and the rule of law, especially with the constitutional reform recently adopted. We call on Turkish authorities to respect their international obligations, upholding democracy, the rule of law and universal human rights principles. Turkey needs to stop all measures of judicial and administrative harassment against human rights defenders and independent civil society. We call on the EU, the Council of Europe and the United Nations to make it very clear that they stand on the side of human rights, defending democracy and pluralism. We hope that international organisations will raise Osman İşçi’s case with the Turkish authorities, in the context of broader and deep concerns on the respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the right to fair trial and to legal remedies.

 

[1] This policy was condemned by international human rights institutions, for example in a report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (March 2017) and a report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
[2] Osman İşçi spent 10 months in pre-trial detention, and he is regularly summoned to court in the framework of the ongoing trial targeting him and 71 other KESK union members before the 6th Heavy Penal Court of Ankara. EuroMed Rights has observed several audiences and evidenced that this trial is not fair nor impartial and that defence’s rights are not guaranteed.
[3] http://ihd.org.tr/en/index.php/2016/10/21/memorandum-on-the-human-rights-implications-of-the-measures-taken-under-the-state-of-emergency-in-turkey/, http://insanhaklarimerkezi.bilgi.edu.tr/media/uploads/2016/12/23/Venedik_Komisyonu_Aciklamasi.pdf and http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2016)037-e

 

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