Joint Statement: METU Pride human rights defenders must be acquitted at upcoming trial

On 8 October at 10:00 GMT+3, 19 LGBTI+ human rights defenders will return to court for what is expected to be the final hearing in the unfair trial they faced for organising and participating in a peaceful Pride march on the campus of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METU) on 10 May 2019.

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS, CALL FOR THE ACQUITTAL OF ALL THE DEFENDANTS IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT, AND TO BRING AN END TO THE SERIES OF POSTPONEMENTS OF THE TRIAL HEARINGS, WHICH HAVE SPANNED OVER MORE THAN TWO YEARS NOW.

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The 19 LGBTI+ human rights defenders face charges of “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “failing to disperse despite being warned,” for participating in the Pride march on the METU campus on 10 May 2019. Earlier in the year, on 21 February 2019, the Ankara District Administrative Court No. 12 had lifted the blanket ban prohibiting all LGBTI+ activities in Ankara, introduced in 2017 under the state of emergency, on the grounds that it was unlawful as it restricted rights and freedoms in unconditional, vague and disproportionate ways. Nevertheless, the University management used the initial ban as the legal basis to prohibit the march.  

The celebration of METU Pride had taken place peacefully on an annual basis since 2011. However, on 6 May 2019, the administration of METU unlawfully banned the peaceful gathering. On 7 May 2019, METU LGBTI+ Solidarity group challenged this ban at the Ankara Administrative Court. In the meantime, since the METU administration’s decision contravened the Ankara court’s February ruling, activists and students exercised their legal right to freedom of assembly and gathered to proceed with their annual Pride celebration on campus. In response, the university administration contacted the Ankara Security Directorate to request their intervention in order to prevent the celebration of the march.

The police used excessive force on peaceful protestors on the day of the march on 10 May: tear gas and plastic bullets were fired at the crowd, students were dragged across the ground, pushed up against trees and sustained head injuries. The excessive use of force deployed during the police intervention violates the right to peaceful assembly, which is protected under domestic law and international laws, including the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party.

In June 2020, the Ankara Administrative Court No. 7 gave a judgement in relation to the case brought by METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, citing the 2019 ruling by the Ankara District Administrative Court No. 12 which had quashed the blanket ban on all LGBTI+ events in the capital, stating that “although specific assemblies and demonstrations may be banned, the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration should be protected as an inalienable right in a democratic society” and that “the State has an obligation to take necessary measures to ensure this right can be  exercised securely”. This ruling confirmed that the METU administration’s ban on the May 2019 Pride March on campus had no legal basis. Despite this, the defendants have yet to be acquitted.

The defendants have been facing a trial that has lasted over two years since the opening of the criminal case against them in August 2019, and which hangs like a cloud over their heads and negatively impacts their everyday lives, affecting them personally, academically, and professionally.

We therefore call for the acquittal of all 19 human rights defenders at the hearing of 8 October taking place at Ankara’s 39th Penal Court of First Instance. We further call on the Turkish authorities to ensure that the security forces and METU administration uphold the right to freedom of peaceful assembly as enshrined in domestic law and international human rights law, by ensuring that future Pride marches at METU campus and in Ankara take place without obstruction. We also call on the Turkish authorities to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force by the police on the campus, and for police officers responsible for arbitrary or abusive force to be brought to justice.

  • Agir ensemble pour les droits humains
  • Amnesty International
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Human Rights Without Frontiers
  • ILGA-Europe – the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • Netherlands Helsinki Committee
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Ortak Aç?klama: ODTÜ Onur Yürüyü?ü’ne kat?lan insan haklar? savunucular? gelecek duru?mada beraat etmeli

8 Ekim günü saat 10.00’da, 19 LGBT?+ haklar? savunucusu, 10 May?s 2019’da Orta Do?u Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTÜ) kampüsünde gerçekle?tirilen bar??ç?l Onur Yürüyü?ü’nü düzenledikleri ve yürüyü?e kat?ld?klar? gerekçesiyle haks?z yere yarg?land?klar? davan?n karar duru?mas? olmas? beklenen duru?maya kat?lmak için mahkemede olacak. Biz, a?a??da imzas? bulunan insan haklar? örgütleri, suç te?kil eden bir fiile ili?kin herhangi bir kan?t?n yoklu?unda, yarg?lanan tüm ki?ilerin beraat etmesi ve iki y?ldan uzun süredir devam eden davan?n duru?malar?nda yap?lan bir dizi ertelemeye art?k bir son verilmesi için ça?r?da bulunuyoruz.

19 LGBT?+ haklar? savunucusu, 10 May?s 2019’da ODTÜ kampüsünde gerçekle?tirilen Onur Yürüyü?ü’ne kat?ld?klar? için “kanuna ayk?r? toplant?ya kat?lmak” ve “ihtara ra?men kendili?inden da??lmamak” ile suçlan?yor. Ayn? y?l daha önceki bir tarihte, 21 ?ubat 2019’da Ankara 12. Bölge ?dare Mahkemesi, 2017’de ola?anüstü hal döneminde ç?kart?lan ve Ankara’daki tüm LGBT?+ etkinliklerini yasaklayan genel yasa?? temel hak ve özgürlükleri ko?ulsuz, belirsiz ve ölçüsüz olarak k?s?tland??? ve hukuka ayk?r? oldu?u gerekçesiyle kald?rm??t?. Buna ra?men üniversite yönetimi, önceki yasa?? yürüyü?ü yasaklamak için yasal bir dayanak olarak kulland?.

ODTÜ Onur Yürüyü?ü 2011’den beri her y?l bar??ç?l biçimde gerçekle?tiriliyordu. Ancak 6 May?s 2019’da ODTÜ yönetimi bar??ç?l Onur Yürüyü?ü’nü hukuka ayk?r? ?ekilde yasaklad?. 7 May?s 2019’da ODTÜ LGBT?+ Dayan??mas? Ankara 7. ?dare Mahkemesi’ne ba?vurarak yasa?a itiraz etti. Bu s?rada, ODTÜ yönetiminin karar? Ankara 12. Bölge ?dare Mahkemesi’nin ?ubat ay?ndaki karar?na ayk?r? oldu?u için aktivistler ve ö?renciler yasal toplanma özgürlü?ü haklar?n? kullanarak Onur Yürüyü?ü’nü gerçekle?tirmek üzere kampüste topland?. Bunun üzerine üniversite yönetimi, yürüyü?ü engellemek için Ankara Emniyet Müdürlü?ü’yle ileti?ime geçerek müdahale edilmesini istedi.

Yürüyü? günü, 10 May?s’ta, polis bar??ç?l protestoculara a??r? güç kulland?: Kalabal??a biber gaz? ve plastik mermiler s?k?ld?, ö?renciler yerlerde sürüklendi, a?açlara itildi ve kafalar?ndan yaraland?lar. Polis müdahalesi s?ras?nda ba?vurulan a??r? güç kullan?m?, Türkiye’nin taraf oldu?u Avrupa ?nsan Haklar? Sözle?mesi dahil olmak üzere uluslararas? hukuk ve iç hukukun güvence alt?na ald??? bar??ç?l toplanma hakk?n?n ihlalidir.

Haziran 2020’de Ankara 7. ?dare Mahkemesi, Ankara 12. Bölge ?dare Mahkemesi’nin 2017’den beri ba?kentteki tüm LGBT?+ etkinliklerine yönelik genel yasa?? kald?ran 2019’daki karar?na at?fta bulunarak “belirli toplant? ve gösteri yürüyü?lerinin yasaklanmas? mümkün olmakla birlikte bar??ç?l toplant? ve gösteri yürüyü?ü hakk?n?n demokratik bir toplumda vazgeçilmez haklardan biri olarak korunmas? gerekti?i”ni ve “devletin toplanma özgürlü?ünün kullan?lmas?n? sa?lamak için gereken önlemleri almakla yükümlü oldu?u”nu belirtti. Bu karar, ODTÜ yönetiminin May?s 2019’da kampüsteki Onur Yürüyü?ü’ne getirdi?i yasa??n hukuki dayana?? olmad???n? do?rulad?. Buna ra?men yarg?lanan ki?iler hâlâ beraat etmedi.

19 ki?i, A?ustos 2019’da haklar?nda aç?lan ve iki y?ldan uzun süren, bu süre boyunca onlar? kayg?land?ran ve günlük ya?amlar? üzerinde olumsuz etkiler yaratan; onlar? ki?isel, akademik ve mesleki anlamda etkileyen bir davayla kar?? kar??ya.

Bu nedenle, 8 Ekim’de Ankara 39. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülecek duru?mada 19 insan haklar? savunucusunun tamam?n?n beraat etmesi için ça?r? yap?yoruz. Türkiye yetkililerini, güvenlik güçleri ve ODTÜ yönetiminin, gelecekte ODTÜ kampüsünde ve Ankara’da yap?lacak Onur Yürüyü?lerinin herhangi bir engellemeyle kar??la?maks?z?n gerçekle?tirilmesini sa?layarak, iç hukuk ve uluslararas? insan haklar? hukukunca güvence alt?na al?nan bar??ç?l toplanma özgürlü?ü hakk?n? korumas?n? sa?lamaya ça??r?yoruz.  Ayr?ca, Türkiye yetkililerini, polisin kampüsteki a??r? güç kullan?m?na ili?kin h?zl?, ba??ms?z ve tarafs?z bir soru?turma yürütmeye ve keyfi veya görevi suiistimale dayal? güç kullanan kolluk görevlilerinin adalet önüne ç?kar?lmas?n? sa?lamaya ça??r?yoruz.

  • Agir ensemble pour les droits humains
  • Uluslararas? Af Örgütü
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Front Line Defenders
  • S?n?r Tan?mayan ?nsan Haklar? Örgütü
  • ILGA-Avrupa (Uluslararas? Lezbiyen, Gey, Biseksüel, Trans ve ?nterseks Derne?i Avrupa Bölgesi)
  • Uluslararas? ?nsan Haklar? Federasyonu (F?DH) – ?nsan Haklar? Savunucular?n?n Korunmas? için Gözlemevi
  • Hollanda Helsinki Komitesi
  • ??kenceye Kar?? Dünya Örgütü (OMCT) – ?nsan Haklar? Savunucular?n?n Korunmas? için Gözlemev

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