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IHOP will monitor the trial against human rights defenders


Several members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), along with mayors, municipal officers, executive members of trade unions and several other associations, were detained in operations starting in April 2009.  Many of them were arrested and now await trial.  Among the defendants are Muharrem Erbey, a lawyer and Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Association (IHD), and executive members of the Diyarbakir Branch of IHD, Roza Erdede and Aslan Özdemir.

A human rights defender strives, both individually and in association with others, for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (9 December 1998) defines the right to defend human rights and enumerates the rights of human rights defenders.  Within this framework, the right to defend human rights should be respected.

Human rights can only be protected when a democratic political system guarantees the rights and freedoms of individuals.  Democracy allows for the expression of diverse ideas and ensures that different beliefs and cultures are able to express themselves and flourish.  For this reason, the freedoms of expression and of association are guaranteed in democratic societies.  A democratic system does not discriminate between accepted and unaccepted thoughts; those who defend what some consider “unacceptable thoughts” are also protected, because pluralism is guaranteed when all thoughts are expressed freely.

Executive members of the Human Rights Association Muharrem Erbey, Roza Erdede and Aslan Özdemir have been subjected to investigations mainly because of their work as human rights defenders.  They were subsequently arrested in the course of an operation that began in April 2009. This practice, which can be called “judicial pressure” on human rights defenders, is a form of political persecution that is totally unacceptable in a democratic society.

Many of the defenders who appeared in court on 18 October are persons who work within legal and legitimate platforms such as municipalities, associations, trade unions and political parties.  In this context, it is extremely important that laws similar to the former Articles 141 and 142 of the Turkish Penal Code be revoked.  No one should be subjected to investigation, detention or arrest because of the work they perform at legal, legitimate and peaceful organizations, nor should these activities be brought against them as if they were crimes.  Such practices show a lack of judicial security and damage the principle of the rule of law.

The principle of the rule of law, which is one of the key principles for the protection and promotion of human rights and liberties, guarantees effective monitoring and protection of personal rights and liberties against intervention by public officials.  This protection and oversight is the duty of the judiciary, which should be independent and impartial.

The Human Rights Joint Platform will monitor the trial with respect to the right to “personal liberty and security” and the right to a “fair trial”.  In particular, we will monitor the proceedings against the human rights defenders Muharrem Erbey, Roza Erdede and Aslan Özdemir within the framework of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  We will defend the right to defend human rights, and together with human rights defenders from all over the world, show our solidarity with them. The Human Rights Joint Platform will shout it loud: Justice for All!


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