Urgent Action: LGBTI Activist Held In Pre-Trial Detention (Turkey: UA 2/17)

Urgent Action
January 6, 2017
Fashion designer and LGBTI activist Barbaros Şansal is being held in pre-trial detention, accused of ‘inciting the public to hatred or hostility’ for a video message and tweet he shared on social media on New Year’s Eve. He was detained on the territory of northern Cyprus and extradited to Turkey the next day. He was assaulted on arrival in Istanbul on the airport apron.
On New Year’s Eve, fashion designer and LGBTI rights activist Barbaros Şansal posted a short video message on social media in which he criticized people for celebrating the New Year at a time of large scale detention of journalists, and widespread corruption and child abuse allegations, ending it with a wish for ‘Turkey to drown in its shit.’ On 2 January, he was extradited from the territory of northern Cyprus, where he had been over the New Year period. Barbaros Şansal’s lawyer told Amnesty International that the authorities in the territory of northern Cyprus had not provided a document attesting to a formal extradition decision.
In the evening of 2 January, on arrival at Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, Barbaros Şansal was assaulted by a group of airport ground staff as he was leaving the plane before he was detained by Turkish police. His lawyer told Amnesty International that he had received cuts and bruises as a result of the physical attack and that, as of 4 January, there was no criminal investigation into the assault. The lawyer said a disciplinary investigation into three individuals had been announced by the company employing the ground staff at the airport after a video of the assault was posted online.
Barbaros Şansal was remanded in pre-trial detention on 3 January, accused of ‘inciting the public to hatred or hostility’ under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code, on the basis of the video message and tweet he shared on social media in the early hours of 1 January 2017. He is currently held in Silivri prison, near Istanbul.
Both the video message and the tweet Barbaros Şansal admits to sharing are protected under the right to freedom of expression, and should not be subject to criminal prosecution. Amnesty International has long called for Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code to be amended and be brought in line with international law, by repealing paragraphs 2 and 3 which exceed the permissible restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Barbaros Şansal from pre-trial detention and drop the charges against him;
  • Urging them to start a criminal investigation into the assault on Barbaros Şansal and bring all those found to be responsible to justice;
  • Calling on them to repeal paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 216 of the penal code.

Contact these two officials by 17 February, 2017:

Minister of Justice
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Ministry of Justice
Adalet Bakanlığı, 06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70
Salutation: Dear Minister
Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 612 6700 I Fax: 1 202 612 6744
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
PDF version: 
Word version: