Annual Report: Turkey 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Turkey 2010

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  • Emrah Ali?an, who was serving a three-year prison sentence, made an application for release on medical grounds in April. The application was supported by medical reports stating that his health condition could not be treated while in prison. The reports indicated that his health had deteriorated significantly while he was in prison and that he was paralyzed and dependent on nursing care. He remained in prison at the end of the year.

Prisoners' rights to associate with other prisoners were frequently not enforced.

  • In November five prisoners were sent to the high security prison on the island of ?mral? where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had been imprisoned in isolation for 10 years. It was announced that the six prisoners would be able to associate with each other for up to 10 hours a week, in keeping with regulations applicable to all prisoners in Turkey's high security prisons.

On occasion, children were held in prison alongside adults, and generally prison regimes for children did not differ from those of adult prisoners. Notably, there was no provision for child prisoners to continue their education.

Unfair trials

Protracted and unfair trials persisted, especially of suspects prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation. Children were prosecuted under the same procedures as adults and convicted under unfair laws on the basis of unsubstantiated and unreliable evidence for their alleged participation in sometimes violent demonstrations.

  • In March, 14-year-old A.Y. was convicted on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organization and of membership of a terrorist organization. He allegedly participated in a demonstration in October 2008. He was sentenced to three years, one month and 15 days in prison. An appeal was pending at the end of the year.

Prisoners of conscience - conscientious objectors

Conscientious objection to military service was not allowed and no civilian alternative was available. Laws allowing the repeated prosecution and conviction of conscientious objectors remained in force.

  • In December, Enver Aydemir was rearrested in Istanbul for refusing to perform military service. He told his lawyer that he was repeatedly beaten at Maltepe Military Prison. At the end of the year he remained in pre-trial detention on charges of persistent insubordination and desertion.
  • In November, three soldiers were convicted of beating conscientious objector Mehmet Bal in June 2008 and sentenced to three months and 10 days' imprisonment. All four men had been prisoners in Hasdal Military Prison. Neither the senior officer who allegedly ordered the attack on Mehmet Bal nor any other official at the prison faced prosecution.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Discrimination in law and practice continued against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Five transgender women were murdered, and in only one case was a conviction secured.

  • The trial began in January of the father of a gay man, Ahmet Y?ld?z, who was shot dead in 2008 in a suspected "honour" crime. Ahmet Y?ld?z had previously complained of threats from relatives. His father was not arrested and the trial started in his absence.
  • The NGO Lambda Istanbul, which supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, won its appeal against closure in the Supreme Court of Appeals in January. However, the ruling left open the possibility that LGBT organizations could be closed for "encouraging others to become lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender".
  • In October prosecutors sought to close LGBT solidarity organization Black Pink Triangle after the Izmir Governor's office said that its statute breached "Turkish moral values and family structure".

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Recognized refugees, registered asylum-seekers and others in need of protection were arbitrarily denied access to the asylum procedure and sometimes detained. Some were returned to countries where they risked persecution.