Turkish government has jailed more than 570 lawyers, mostly alleged members of the Gülen movement, under the rule of emergency which was declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Şenal Sarıhan, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People Party (CHP), has revealed on Tuesday that authorities had arrested 572 lawyers during the one and a half year-long state of emergency in place since the controversial military coup.
Sarihan held a press conference at the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday and stated that of the lawyers imprisoned, 488 faced maltreatment under police custody, as 79 of them were given prison sentences.
Reports from mid-2016 onward show that the majority of lawyers detained were accused of membership in alleged “terrorist organizations” including the Gülen movement movement, far-left groups and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Turkish government, under the strict rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has extended the nationwide state of emergency six times already.
CHP deputy Sarıhan said that Erdoğan’s government was violating lawyers’ internationally-enshrined rights for merely doing their job. “We call on the judiciary to take action for the freedom of those unjustly detained,” Sarıhan said and added that Erdogan and his ministers were targeting individuals, civic organizations, and unions before judiciary launched probes.
Sarıhan also stated that 311 people were detained for their criticism of the Afrin operation on social media posts, and 11 executives of the country’s top medics’ associations faced the same fate over a statement in which they called for peace.
Last week, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) urged the Turkish government to stop persecuting lawyers. “This situation demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law and is a deliberate attack on human rights defenders and legal professionals. We call on the Turkish government to bring an end to this deplorable situation and to adhere to international instruments,” IBAHRI’s Co-Chair Ambassador Hans Corell said. According to IBAHRI, 1,488 lawyers were prosecuted, and 34 bar associations were shut down in Turkey.