24th January – International Day of Solidarity with Lawyers in Turkey
12-1pm 43 Belgrave Square, SW 1
The day of action on 24th January, which saw simultaneous actions by lawyers taking place in major cities across Europe, was marked in London with a protest outside the Turkish Embassy, and organised by CAMPACC and Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, to highlight the intolerable conditions faced by lawyers in Turkey.
Jeremy Corbyn MP and Prof Bill Bowring the President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights were joined by lawyers Margaret Owen, Michael Ellman, Hugo Charlton, Ali Has, Arman Banirad and human rights activist Estella Schmid from CAMPACC and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.
“The Day of the Endangered Lawyer wants to bring to public attention the widespread human rights violations in Turkey against with lawyers seeking to represent victims of are themselves increasingly being subject to arrest and prosecution. We are here today to show our solidarity with our Kurdish and Turkish colleagues who are being arrested and prosecuted simply for carrying out their normal professional duties. Severe restrictions are routinely placed on the way they represent and relate to their clients with, for example, the taping of conversations, which breaches the principle of confidentiality. The broad definition of terrorism under Turkey’s anti-terror laws is at the root of the problem and it means that lawyers can be detained for representing clients who are accused of terrorism “ said Professor Bill Bowring
The state’s actions against the country’s lawyers culminated in the mass arrest of some 36 Turkish and Kurdish lawyers during simultaneous raids carried out in several Turkish cities and provinces on 22 November 2011 as part of the continuing KCK operations, which are a key part of the state’s oppressive measures against the Kurdish people. The lawyers arrested include members of the legal team of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The lawyers remain in custody.
The petition and letter by the Endangered Lawyers initiative which Jeremy Corbyn MP tried to hand in on behalf of the organisation was refused by the Turkish Embassy. The police officer at the entry of the Turkish Embassy was under strict instructions not to allow the delivery of any letters. For information we attach the petition/letter and urge you to circulate it.
The Day of the Endangered Lawyer was organized this year by three European lawyers’ associations: the European Democratic Lawyers (AED-EDL, www.aed-edl.net), the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH, www.eldh.eu) and the European Bar Human Rights Institute (IDHAE, www.idhae.org). Together they represent lawyers all over Europe.
We urge you to support the main demands of this lawyers’ initiative which is calling for the following:
· Repeal of The Turkish Anti-Terror Law of 1991 which protects the security of the state at the expense of the freedom and security of individuals and violates international human rights law;
· The immediate release of all lawyers detained for political reasons;
· A fair trial for defendants in the KCK trial, including permission for foreign legal observers to attend the trial;
· An international independent investigation into the actions carried out in Turkey against lawyers and other professionals such as journalists in order to hold those responsible for these arrests accountable for violations of basic human rights.