IHD: Release Gürbüz Solmaz Now!

On 29 September 2019, numerous individuals have been arrested by the police following raids into their residences in Dersim early on a Sunday morning. These persons include former and current executives of Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (Halkların Demokratik Partisi –HDP) Dersim provincial organization.

The same day the police raided the residence of Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Dersim Branch Chairperson, Mr. Gürbüz Solmaz as well but the police were not able to arrest him as he was not at home at the time of the raid. Mr. Solmaz has been visiting his family with his spouse elsewhere. He learnt that there was a warrant for his custody by the police but he did not change his plan and was subsequently arrested at a police check point on entering the city towards the evening while he was returning to Dersim by his own vehicle.

During his interview by the police, Mr. Solmaz was asked about the press conferences along with assemblies and demonstrations he attended as the branch chairperson of İHD and co-chairperson of SES (Trade Union of Employees in Public Health and Social Services) and whether he participated in these events in the name of illegal organizations.

Authorities have long been attempting to criminalize executives of NGOs, trade unions and professional chambers active in the democratic field in Turkey. One of the key features of a democratic society is that everyone can hold peaceful assemblies and protests without prior permission. Along with the right to peaceful assembly and association, everyone is entitled to share their thoughts with the public. The political power in Turkey can easily blame anyone, who make statements and participate in such assemblies on issues that it does not like, by rather poorly handling the current Anti-Terror Law. Particularly the “Opinion on the Measures Provided in the Recent Emergency Decree Laws with Respect to Freedom of the Media” drafted by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission seriously criticizes Turkey on this issue. The European Court of Human Rights has also set forth such criticism in its various judgments. Such criticism includes the fact that Article 220 § 6-7, which prescribe indirect membership in an organization, and Article 314 § 2-3 of the Turkish Penal Code along with Articles 2 and 7 § 2 of the Anti-Terror Code are not foreseeable and do not conform to the principle of legality, and therefore, they should necessarily be amended.

There is a great discrepancy between this conduct against the civilian democratic field in Dersim and the grounds provided in the 1st Judicial Pack submitted to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as per AKP’s judicial reform strategy document. İHD, hereby, invites the political power to drop all its policies designed to keep the civilian democratic field under pressure and to restructure the law enforcement and judiciary accordingly.

İHD would like to underline the fact that its branch chairperson Gürbüz Solmaz should not be charged due to his entirely legal, legitimate and democratic acts in line with the provisions put forth in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with which Turkey has to comply, and the current democratic principles, thereby, demanding his immediate release.