An imprisoned judge has stated in a letter he sent to Christophe Regnard, the President of the International Association of Judges (IAJ) that pro-Erdoğan judge Yunus Süer in an Ankara court has decided for continuation of detention of 345 judges and prosecutors, including a demised judge, in a single decision with one and half page of explanation.
The jailed judge written that “As it can evidently be inferred even from the Turkish version of the decision it contains no reasoning, no evidence, no accusations, no acts, no individualization for 345 suspects. I believe that the decision reveals where the Turkish judiciary has come with respect to the rule of law and independence of judiciary.”
A military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect. Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch.
In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people have been purged due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has announced on April 2 that 47,155 people have been jailed while 113,260 people have been detained with the same accusations. According to Soylu’s statement 2,575 judges and prosecutors have been imprisoned since failed coup attempt.
Also, according to a letter released by Christophe Regnard, the President of the International Association of Judges (IAJ), over state of judiciary on Turkey, 24,4 percent of all judges (2538 out of 10382) and 24,3 percent of all prosecutors (1121 out of 4622) in Turkey were dismissed by Turkish government and the majority of them are in detention since July 15, 2016.
In his letter to IAJ President, the jailed judge has stated that Turkish judiciary is still going to the wrong direction and nothing can be seen to divert it to the right path and urged IAJ head Regnard to raise awareness on the issue and do as much as you can to get it back to rule of law. “The problem will become more serious and it will have other impacts unless international stakeholders interfere with the situation,” said the jailed judge.
The full text of a jailed judge, whose name was not revealed due to fear of torture and maltreatment in the prison, as follows:
“Dear Mr. Regnard,
My name is … . I am writing this letter from … Turkey prison. I was working as a judge 8 months ago. I was first detained on charges of being a member of an armed terror group, attempting to change the constitutional order and trying to overthrow the government, then, dismissed from profession.
As judges and prosecutors, we would like to thank yo very much for your efforts for raising our situation in every platform. We appreciate what yo have done so far. I believe that it is not our situation to mainly focus on, but the state of the rule of law and independence of judiciary which which threatens every person in Turkey now.
As you know, almost 4000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and around 2500 of them are being kept behind bars. This might sound unbelievable to you, however, I assure you that the situation of the Turkish judiciary is worse than that.
In order to reflect how it works, I am attaching to this letter a continuation of detention decision for exactly 345 judges and prosecutors. The 8th Criminal Judge of Peace of Ankara decided the continuation of detention of 345 judges and prosecutors in one and half pages with appended list.
As it can evidently be inferred even from the Turkish version of the decision. It contains no reasoning, no evidence, no accusations, no acts, no individualization for 345 suspects. I believe that the decision reveals where the Turkish judiciary has come with respect to the rule of law and independence of judiciary.
The decision also includes the continuation of decision of a prosecutor who died 2 months before the decision. Prosecutor Mr. Seyfettin Yiğit who had committed suicide in a prison in Bursa after having trauma in this witch hunt process died on September 15. However, the judge decided for continuation of his detention on November 10, 2016, almost two months after his death.
I think these facts are more than sufficient to reflect the true image of Turkish judiciary. This decision might seem appalling in a democratic society, however, in Turkey this is only one of tens of thousands of similar ones.
Unfortunately, Turkish judiciary is still going to the wrong direction and nothing can be seen to divert it to the right path. I would like you to raise awareness on the issue and do as much as you can to get it back to rule of law. The problem will become more serious and it will have other impacts unless international stakeholders interfere with the situation.
Thank you very much in advance.