The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network’s (EMHRN) mission to Ankara expressed its concerns following the second hearing of the trial against its Executive Committee member M. Osman İşçi and 71 trade-unionists. The observers gave a worrying account of the trial standards that lacked independence and transparency throughout. The same misgivings were underlined during the first hearing in April.

The observation of the second hearing held on 8 July 2013 concluded that the trial fell short of international fair trial standards regarding central issues. Lack of independence of the tribunal, inequality of arms between accusation and defense, length and uncertainty on the timeframe of the proceedings, lack of disclosure of evidence to the defense, failure by the police to investigate material that could support the defense, lack of opportunity to challenge disputed evidence and lack of transparency and legal basis for the tribunal’s decisions.

Remarkably, all defendants who made oral statements claimed that the indictment equated lawful organizations and legitimate trade union activities with alleged terrorist organizations, without giving evidence of these links. They stressed that most of them are Kurds, trade-union and human rights activists, and all are affiliated to the Public Service Workers Unions Confederation (KESK). They denounced a political trial, where their professional activities and their peaceful speeches constitute “elements of crime” according to the indictment act. The third hearing will be held on 25 November 2013.

EMHRN wished to bring international solidarity to M. İşçi and his colleagues, who were detained on 25 June 2012 and M. İşçi along with another 22 remained 10 months in pre-trial detention. They were released pending charges on the first hearing of the trial that took place on 10 April 2013. EMHRN had also sent an observation mission on that occasion, which gave way to a trial observation report.

Other international observers attended the trial, in particular representatives of the Embassies of Belgium, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as from the European Union Delegation.

The EMHRN calls on the Turkish government to drop the charges against all 72 defendants as this judicial procedure clearly seeks to silence their voices and put an end to their legal activities. EMHRN also calls on the Turkish authorities to guarantee in law and practice that freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression and trade union rights are protected and that no one is unjustly tried for peacefully expressing critics regarding governmental policies.

 

For more information contact:

Bérénice Michard, Tel: +33 611 39 78 51

 

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