Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) announced in a press statement that unknown intruders broke into the house of Eren Keskin, a human rights activist and co-chair of the IHD, in Istanbul on June 17, 2020.
According to the statement the break-in was made to look like a burglary. The house was ransacked, but nothing was stolen. In what is considered to be a message by IHD officials, a valuable ring was picked up and left on a table in the living room. The police are investigating the incident.
The home invasion was directly aimed at “threatening and intimidating” Keskin, according to the association. “She is known for expressing her thoughts openly and fearlessly. For this reason, she often faces investigations and court cases that can be considered ‘judicial harassment’,” the statement reads. “Apparently, judicial harassment was not enough for some circles, so they resorted to physical intimidation.”
The IHD called on the Interior Ministry and the Istanbul Police Department to investigate the incident from a different perspective, not as a simple break-in, and to quickly find the perpetrators.
Referring to paragraph 12 of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the statement said it was an international obligation for the Turkish government to “refrain from any acts of intimidation or reprisals by threats, damage and destruction of property, physical attacks, torture and other ill-treatment, killing, enforced disappearance or other physical or psychological harm targeting human rights defenders and their families.”
The statement also referred to the OSCE guideline (paragraph 13) concerning the investigation of the incident: “All allegations of such acts must be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated in a transparent manner.”
The IHD statement said they consider this intimidation to be an act against all pro-democracy and pro-human rights people in Turkey and called for heightened awareness on the part of the “democratic public.”
Keskin is a lawyer and a prominent human rights activist. She is a founding member of the board of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) and a co-founder of the Legal Aid Bureau against Sexual Harassment and Rape in Custody. She is a recipient of the Aachen Peace Prize, the Theodor Haecker Prize for Civic Courage and Political Integrity and the Helsinki Civil Society Award of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee.