Police raids in several Turkish cities have resulted in the arrest of 15 human rights lawyers, including from the the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association.© ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
It is hard to ignore the increasingly grave human rights situation in Turkey, where, as part of a broader crackdown on leftists, Turkish police raided residences and offices last night, arresting scores of individuals.
Amnesty notes that, among those detained, were fifteen “human rights lawyers known for defending individuals’ right to freedom of speech and victims of police violence.” Some of those arrested had previously voiced to Amnesty their fear of arrest due to their work defending those standing trial under Turkish anti-terrorism laws.
Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey, notes:
“The detention of prominent human rights lawyers and the apparent illegal search of their offices add to a pattern of prosecutions apparently cracking down on dissenting voices. Human rights lawyers have been just some of the victims in the widespread abuse of anti-terrorism laws in Turkey. The question to ask is: who will be left to defend the victims of alleged human rights violations?”
Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his Istanbul office in 2007. © Private
Five years ago, Hrant was gunned down in front of his Istanbul office by a 17-year-old Turk named Ogun Samast. Dink, an outspoken member of Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community and the editor of the newspaper, Agos, had long been subject to public vilification and state harassment. His death was a shock, but it was no surprise.
Samast was convicted last year of the killing, and sentenced to over 22 years. It was obvious, however, that the teenager was not acting alone: not only had Samast himself confessed he was driven by a group of people whom he called “older brothers;” In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish authorities had “failed to act on information they received that could have prevented Dink’s murder and had failed to investigate the role of state officials in his death.”
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