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Judicial Harassment Against Kurdish Women's Rights Defenders

Judicial Harassment Against Kurdish Women's Rights Defenders

Judicial Harassment Against Kurdish Women's Rights Defenders

 

One of the topics that will be of special interest to you is “online violence against women, especially women human rights defenders, women journalists and women politicians”. We estimate that data on online violence is prepared and presented to you by many institutions. In this context, we find it important to report judicial harassment against a number of “key groups” in order not to be repeated and due to our direct exposure. In general terms, judicial harassment;

 

“It is the practice of repeatedly making allegations or accusations under civil, criminal and/or administrative law by state authorities, in order to intimidate or silence individuals, mostly journalists and human rights defenders, by conducting lengthy judicial processes that disrupt their lives and prevent them from doing their jobs.” [1]

 

Women human rights defenders, and especially “Kurdish women human rights defenders” who are exposed to intersectional discrimination due to being Kurdish, have been under systematic judicial harassment for a long time. Practices such as investigations opened against them, house searches made every time in the early hours of the morning, being detained for a long time, being arrested and being subjected to astronomical punishments show that Kurdish women's rights defenders are tried to be silenced by using the judiciary. With judicial harassment, the practice directed at a single person creates a chilling effect on an entire dissident mass - at least this is aimed - and this situation damages democracy, which is the essence of community organization.[2]

 

The data to be presented below by us will only cover the investigations carried out in Diyarbakır between 22/05/2020 and 16/03/2021 and constitute only a small part of the whole. The aforementioned data has been prepared directly on the basis of the interrogation record and indictments. In addition to this, information obtained as a result of press screening, NGO data and interviews with lawyers in terms of investigations whose content cannot be reached will also be included in this report.

 

Within the scope of TCK 314/2 (membership of an armed terrorist organization) and Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, 10 collective operations were carried out in the province of Diyarbakir within the above-mentioned date range, for reasons such as being a member of the Rosa Women's Association, being an activist in TJA (Tevgera Jinên Azad- Free Women's Movement), participating in women's demonstrations.[3] In the aforementioned operations, investigations were initiated against 169 women. The dates, number of people and subjects of the operations will be briefly mentioned below, and then a general evaluation will be made.

 

  • In the operation dated 22/05/2020, an investigation was opened against 16 women who are members and directors of the Rosa Women's Association, their houses were raided in the morning, the building of the association was raided, and 8 women were arrested. According to the indictments, the grounds for trial and arrest are as follows: secret witness statements, participating in the hunger strike organized by the Peace Mothers in Koşuyolu Park, participating in the HDP (People's Democratic Party) central and outer district female mayoral candidate promotion, participating in the trustee action, participating in the press brief named "Women Demand Peace.", participating in the “March 8 International Women's Day” action, participating in the “Purple Chain Action” against the amendment to TCK 103 (child abuse law) and being a member of the Rosa Women's Association.

 

  • The operation dated 07/06/2020 was generally organized for people who carry out political party activities, but an investigation was opened against 2 women who are the directors of the Rosa Women's Association. The houses of the women who were tried for being a member of the association and the above-mentioned allegations were raided in the morning, one of the women was arrested and the other was released under house arrest.

 

  • In the operation dated 09/06/2020, 9 people were detained on the allegation of membership of an armed terrorist organization, and 7 of them were women.

 

  • In the operation dated 19/06/2020, 3 women's houses were raided and detained and an investigation was opened against them for being a member of a terrorist organization.

 

  • Although the operation dated 26/06/2020 was mainly related to the DTK (Democratic Society Congress), all the women detained in this operation were tried on the grounds that they participated in the above-mentioned women's actions and that their names were on the DTK delegate list. Among those detained as part of the operation, 23 were women and 9 were arrested. Many of the women are also members of the Rosa Women's Association.

 

  • The operation dated 14/07/2020 was carried out based on the testimony of a male perpetrator of violence, who was in the process of separating from his wife. The perpetrator of violence reported that the associations of which his wife was a member were affiliated with the terrorist organization, and based on this claim and the above-mentioned women's actions, the houses of 34 women were raided in the morning, detention was carried out and 9 people were arrested. 

 

  • In the operation dated 08/09/2020, an investigation was opened against 3 women on the charge of being a member of a terrorist organization.

 

  • In the operation dated 20/11/2020, many politicians, NGO representatives and members, rights defenders were detained and an investigation was opened against 33 women on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. In terms of the elements of membership in the terrorist organization, women's actions are given as justification.

 

  • During the operation dated 05/04/2021, the Rosa Women's Association building was raided for the second time, 24 women were detained and 11 women were arrested.

 

  • The operation dated 16/03/2021 was only for women, and 24 women were detained and 11 women were arrested.

 

In all the operations listed above, women's actions and membership of the Rosa Women's Association were considered as evidence for the crime of membership in an armed organization. Considering its systematic pattern, “indirect restrictions” on the freedoms of assembly and association, in the form of investigations and prosecutions, create a permanent threat of punishment and create a “chilling effect” on the exercise of rights. In order to end this pressure, petitions were made by more than one rights organization[4] and the UN was called three times. [5]

 

[1] Article 19, Türkiye'de Yargısal Taciz: https://www.article19.org/tr/turkiyede-yargisal-taciz/, Last Access Date 2 December 2021

[3] March 8 International Women's Day, 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, actions against femicides, Actions, press statements, regarding the unlawful termination of the Istanbul Convention etc.

[5] See the previous three letters concerning this issue: Joint urgent action letter of 26 June 2020 to the UN Special Mandate Holders by a group of NGOs: https://www.turkeylitigationsupport.com/s/Rosa-Women-Association.pdf ; Joint urgent action letter of 19 August 2020 to the UN Special Mandate Holders by TLSP and London Legal Group: https://www.turkeylitigationsupport.com/s/UAL-Arrest-and-detention-women-rights-activists-II-19-August-2020-email.pdf; : Joint urgent action letter of 16 May 2022  to the UN Special Mandate Holders by a group of NGOs  https://www.turkeylitigationsupport.com/blog/2022/5/16/urgent-action-letter-to-the-un-special-procedures-on-the-ongoing-unlawful-and-arbitrary-detention-and-judicial-harassment-of-women-human-rights-defenders-in-turkey )

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