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The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, 10 December 2003

UN Human Rights Day in Izmir in support of Turkish psychiatrist and human rights defender

The Social Democrat member of the European Parliament, Mr. Torben Lund, will participate in the UN Human Rights Day meeting on 10 December in Izmir in support of the Turkish psychiatrist and human rights defender, Dr. Alp Ayan.

Dr. Ayan is appearing in a hearing at the Izmir Heavy Penal Court later the same day. He is charged with insulting the state and its officers according to article 159 in Turkey’s penal code. The “crime” he is accused of is to criticise the government of Turkey for torture.

Dr. Ayan is working as a psychiatrist for the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, HRFT, a partner organisation of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). The IRCT Ambassador, Dr. Inge Genefke, and the IRCT Media Co-ordinator, Mr. Poul Struve Nielsen, will accompany Mr. Torben Lund to monitor the court hearing.

The case against Alp Ayan is only one of many serious examples of how human rights defenders are under pressure in Turkey. Right now there are three different cases against Dr. Alp Ayan in different courts. The court hearings in a trial against the Executive Board of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, the HRFT, have recently been adjourned to 20 January 2004. The aim is to suspend the board members from duty. In this case the HRFT is charged for reporting about the human rights situation.

The HRFT has played a major role domestically and internationally in the rehabilitation of torture victims and the documentation of torture. The government of Turkey should make the best possible use of the capacity of the HRFT and collaborate with the organisation in order to achieve human rights standards that comply with the Copenhagen criteria that any EU applicant country is measured by.

Instead, the government keeps harassing the organisation as whole and individual staff members with an endless row of court hearings. The cases would probably never take place in any member-state of the European Union. Most of the cases are postponed time after time and sent from one court instance to another resulting only in fear and insecurity for the human rights defenders who are targets for the absurd charges.

10 December is celebrating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. The articles in the declaration include the right to a fair trial, the right to freedom of torture and the right to freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are systematically violated through the harassment of the HRFT and its staff.

Reliable and bona fide reports that have been published in Turkey and abroad documenting systematic torture in Turkey. The case against Dr. Ayan, who has only pointed out these facts, serves as evidence that Turkey violates human rights through torturing as well as the freedom of speech.

For further information, please contact IRCT Media Co-ordinator Poul Struve Nielsen, +45 33 76 06 49 or 23 34 55 09.

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