Turkish authorities have taken legal action against the Human Rights Association (IHD), an NGO monitoring human rights violations in Turkey since 1986, and its chair, Öztürk Türkdoğan, in three separate cases.
In a statement released on Thursday the IHD said the association was accused of insulting Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and recognizing the Armenian genocide, while Türkdoğan was accused of membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Türkdoğan was briefly detained in March 2021 after a police raid on his home in Ankara. He was questioned by the police without a lawyer present and released under judicial supervision. Türkdoğan was banned from traveling abroad and must check in at a police station twice a month.
Türkdoğan said he was targeted for urging authorities to carry out an investigation into the killing of 13 civilians on February 15, 2021 during a military operation in northern Iraq’s Gare province.
“The Turkish state loves to accuse all citizens, human rights defenders, politicians, activists, trade unionists and students of membership in a terrorist organization. There is probably no other country in the world that accuses so many of its own citizens,” he added.
Türkdoğan’s first hearing will be held at the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court on February 22.
The IHD said they were the oldest human rights monitoring group in Turkey and that such legal actions were the government’s way of pressuring them into silence.
Mustafa Yeneroğlu, from the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), criticized the prosecutor’s move and said the IHD was important for the protection of human rights in the country.
"İktidar, insan hakları savunucuları üzerindeki baskı ve tehdit politikasına son vermeli."
— DEVA Partisi (@devapartisi) January 21, 2022
“The Human Rights Association is a long-standing organization that has carried out numerous studies regarding arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, forced abductions and rights violations in prisons,” he said. “The government is using terrorism accusations as a tool to intimidate human rights defenders. Everyone who opposes the government’s unlawful and arbitrary practices is called a terrorist.”