Today (28 August), lawyer Ebru Timtik died after 238 days of hunger strike. Timtuk was one of eighteen lawyers accused of being part of a terrorist organization, under Turkey’s sweeping anti-terrorism laws.
Following the convictions last year Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Turkey, who observed the trial hearing, said: “Today’s convictions are a travesty of justice and demonstrate yet again the inability of courts crippled under political pressure to deliver a fair trial.
“After more than a year in pre-trial detention for six of the lawyers, and three measly hearings marred by fair trial breaches, this politically motivated prosecution has reached it preposterous conclusion. These lawyers should be immediately and unconditionally released and the conviction quashed.”
Timtik was sentenced to 13 years 6 months in prison last March for “terrorism-related” offences. Eighteen other lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), were sentenced to a total of 159 years in prison.
The appeals court, which upheld the lawyers’ sentences in October 2019, was revealed to give the verdict without reviewing lawyers’ appeal. Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal started hunger strikes on 2 January and 2 February, respectively. Ünsal, is continuing his fast and was also forcibly hospitalized on 30 July.
EU Reporter asked the European Commission to comment on Timtik’s death:
The Commission also issued a statement calling for urgent reforms: “Ebru Timtik’s hunger strike for a fair trial and its tragic outcome painfully illustrate the urgent need for the Turkish authorities to credibly address the human rights situation and serious shortcomings observed in the Turkish judiciary.
“A strong and independent legal profession, along with an independent judiciary, is a core principle of a fair justice system that upholds the rule of law and allows for the effective protection of human rights.
“The EU repeated on a number of occasions and we would like to recall also today that Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, which are cornerstones of EU-Turkey relations.”
The death of Timtik takes place against a backdrop of increasing tensions between the EU and Turkey. EU foreign ministers meeting in Berlin today will discuss possible sanctions for Turkey, and are urging dialogue to prevent a further escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
— People’s Law Office – International (@PLO_int) August 28, 2020
According to a survey by NGO, Arrested Lawyers, there is a steady increase in the use of anti-terrorism law on individuals by public prosecutors. In the last seven years, Turkish public prosecutors have filed more than 392,000 charges under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. 220,000 individuals have been sentenced for membership of an armed terrorist organization between 2016-19.