The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 29, 2009

December 29, 2009 - PRESS RELEASE - TURKEY The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Press release

Turkey: The Human Rights Association (IHD) remains in the firing line

Paris - Geneva, December 29, 2009. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expresses its deepest concerns following the arrest of Mr. Muharrem Erbey, General Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Haklari Derneği – İHD) and Chairperson of its Diyarbakir Province Branch and the arbitrary search of IHD's offices in Diyarbakır.

On December 24, 2009, in the morning, the police officers belonging to the “anti-terrorism” branch launched an operation in at least 11 provinces in Turkey following an order issued by the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecution Office that led to the arrest of dozens of Kurdish opposition members, journalists and civil society activists including human rights defender Mr. Muharrem Erbey. Human rights lawyer Muharrem Erbey was then remanded into custody and charged by the Diyarbakır Special Heavy Penal Court 26 December 2009 of “being a member of an illegal organisation” pursuant to Article 314 of the Criminal Code, with reference to Article 220/6 of the Criminal Code in the Law No. 5237. He is currently detained in the Diyarbakir D Type Prison. He has access to his lawyer and family.

Mr. Muharrem Erbey is wrongly accused of being the international affairs representative of the illegal armed organisation called the Community of Kurdish Society (Koma Civaken Kurdistan – KCK) after having participated to the preparations of a workshop organised in Diyarbakır in September 2009 to discuss constitutional amendments aimed at ensuring a greater respect of minorities' rights, made a statement on the rights of the Kurdish minority in Turkey before the parliaments of Belgium, Sweden and England, participated to the “Kurdish Film Festival” in Italy in the summer of 2009 and being the legal adviser of the Mayor of Diyarbakir, Mr. Osman Baydemir.

Furthermore, simultaneously, the police attempted to raid IHD's offices in Diyarbakir without a warrant. Following objections by IHD staff, they obtained a court order within five minutes and proceeded to the search and confiscation of IHD's computers and documentation. Documents confiscated included in particular archives which had been collected during 21 years documenting serious human rights violations like politically motivated killings by unknown assailants, forced disappearance and torture cases.

The Observatory recalls that the Human Rights Association (IHD) has played a vital role in the promotion of human rights and democracy in Turkey. The Observatory is more generally concerned with the intensified crackdown faced by the IHD and its members and more particularly by the detention of its General Vice Chairperson, which merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities in violation of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

The Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Erbey as well as all other detained human rights defenders.

For further information, please contact:
FIDH: Karine Appy, + 33 1 43 55 25 18

Karine Appy
Attachée de presse
Press Officer
17 passage de la main d'or
75011 Paris
Tél : 00 33 1 43 55 14 12 / 00 33 6 48 05 91 57
Fax : 00 33 1 43 55 18 80

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