TURKEY: Judicial harassment against Eren Keskin continues
Eren Keskin is a lawyer and co-President of the Turkish Association for Human Rights (IHD). In 1997, she founded a legal aid office dedicated to women who suffered sexual assaults or rape by the security forces in Turkish prisons. Very critical towards the Turkish regime, Eren Keskin regularly denounced the exactions committed on minorities, especially the Kurdish. She was consequently accused several times of “disparaging the Turkish State”. In 1995, she was imprisoned for 6 months for having used the term “Kurdistan” in an article. She was also condemned several times for having denounced the abuses committed by the Turkish army.
Her involvement, as well as the judicial harassment she is the object of (with a total of 143 procedures launched against her), have earned her many distinctions: Eren Keskin is an honorary member of the Paris Bar association; she received the Helsinki Civil Society Award in 2018; she also received the Martin Ennal Award in 2019, which is bestowed by 10 of the most important human rights NGOs (as a tribute to Martin Ennals, Secretary General of Amnesty International).
As part of a solidarity campaign organized to support the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, she held the function of co-editor-in-chief from 2013 to 20165.
Because of this campaign, Eren Keskin is prosecuted along with Asli Erdogan (writer and editor of Özgür Gündem) and Erol Önderoğlu (representative of Reporters Without Borders in Turkey), as well as many other human rights defenders. The charges are – among others – “association with a terrorist group”, “damage to the national unity”, “public incitement to the commission of crimes”. She was condemned on March 30th, 2018 to 7,5 years of imprisonment due to articles written in this newspaper.
On May 21st, 2019, Eren keskin was again condemned to 3 years and 9 months of prison on charges of “propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” (which again is linked to her writings in Özgür Gündem).
On March 20th, 2018, she had already been condemned in 49 procedures, among which 6 imprisonment sentences. These 6 sentences were replaced by day-fines (9541€ in total). For 40 other procedures amounting to a total of 5 years of imprisonment (day-fines amounting to 69357€), appeals are being examined. She was acquitted in 3 other procedures.
During the audience before the 14th Criminal Court of Istanbul, Eren keskin declared: “I support freedom of thought and expression. I became editor-in-chief because I supported freedom of publication. I do not think I committed a crime. Nor do I think that this very thought is a crime. I demand my acquittal.”
The OIAD expresses its full support to Eren keskin as well as to all the Turkish lawyers facing repression from the regime. Turkish authorities must cease all intimidation attempts against lawyers struggling for the respect of fundamental rights and liberties.
The OIAD firmly condemns the prosecutions against Eren Keskin aiming at punishing her for her activity. We urge Turkish authorities to comply with the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, according to which “lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly.” (Principle n° 23)
The OIAD is deeply preoccupied by the disciplinary proceedings launched against Eren Keskin by the Istanbul bar association, following requests emanating from the Turkish President’s team.
The OIAD will pursue its mobilization in favor of Turkish lawyers, especially human rights defenders.
Who are we?
The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger was created by the National Bar Council (France), the Paris Bar (France), the Consejo General de la Abogacía Espanola (Spain), and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy). Its goal is to conduct a constant monitoring on lawyers facing threats around the world because they lawfully practice their profession and to provide assistance to attorneys whose lives, freedom or practice are threatened.