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The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - IRCT Media Release, Copenhagen, Thursday 13 January 2004

Court hearing is a threat to anti-torture organisation in Turkey

Nine executive board members of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) are appearing before the Ankara Civil Court of First Instance 20 January 2004. They are charged with “having collected contributions without obtaining permission” and “co-operating with international organisations without permission.

The case targets the HRFT of Turkey as such, thereby bringing the organisational operation in danger. The aim is to suspend the board members from duty.

HRFT is a partner organisation of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). HRFT is a reliable and bona fide organisation that documents torture and rehabilitates torture victims. The organisation, its staff and board members have merely pointed out the fact that torture is widespread and systematic in Turkey. This is well documented in several reports that have been published in Turkey and abroad.

The case against the nine executive board members is yet another example of the harassment of the organisation as a whole and individual staff members through an endless row of court hearings.

Attempts to collect contributions without permission refers to persons contributing to the HRFT studies on the treatment of hunger strikers after release from prison. The international organisations with which the HRFT allegedly has co-operated without permission include Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary And Arbitrary Executions, Johannes Swobada, Rapporteur for Turkey of the European Parliament and Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights.

The IRCT Ambassador, Dr Inge Genefke, will monitor the court hearing in Ankara together with IRCT Media Co-ordinator Poul Struve Nielsen.

Other examples of the pressure applied to human rights defenders in Turkey are the cases against the Turkish psychiatrist Alp Ayan. He is obliged to appear in court hearings in three different cases against him over the next three months.

These cases would probably never take place in any member-state of the European Union. Most of the cases are postponed time and time again and sent from one court instance to another, resulting only in fear and insecurity for the human rights defenders who are targets for the absurd charges.

The HRFT has played a major role domestically and internationally in the rehabilitation of torture victims and the documentation of torture. The Government of Turkey should make the best possible use of the capacity of the HRFT and collaborate with the organisation in order to achieve human rights standards that comply with the Copenhagen criteria by which any EU applicant country is measured.

For further information, please contact Media Co-ordinator Poul Struve Nielsen, +45 23 34 55 09 or 23 34 55 09. IRCT Ambassador Inge Genefke can be reached on +45 20 96 06 25.

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