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The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, 15 December 2003, IRCT Media Release

Case against Turkish psychiatrist and human rights defender further postponed

In the hearing on the UN Human Rights Day, 10 December, in the Izmir Heavy Penal Court in the case against the Turkish psychiatrist and human rights defender, Dr. Alp Ayan, the court decided to postpone the trial once again after only 20 seconds. The next hearing in the case will be 3 March.

The case against Alp Ayan is only one of many serious examples of how human rights defenders are under pressure in Turkey. 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. Right now there are three different cases against Dr. Alp Ayan in different courts. Dr. Ayan is working as a psychiatrist for the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, HRFT.

In 2001, Dr. Ayan together with other human rights defenders made a press statement in order to protest against the prison operations and human rights violations taking place in the F-Type prisons. The hearing 10 December was the fourth hearing in the same case in three different courts. He is charged with insulting the state and its officers according to article 159 in Turkey’s penal code. The court hearings in another trial against the Executive Board of the HRFT have recently been adjourned to 20 January 2004. In this case the HRFT is charged for reporting about the human rights situation.

The cases would probably never take place in any member-state of the European Union. The Social Democrat member of the European Parliament, Mr. Torben Lund, monitored the hearing court hearing in the case against Alp Ayan, together with IRCT Ambassador Inge Genefke and IRCT Media Co-ordinator Poul Struve Nielsen. The delegation further participated in a meeting celebrating the UN Human Rights Day on 10 December in Izmir. Torben Lund, MEP, says:

“It is crucial for the government of Turkey to end the wide-spread torture and ill-treatment and make sure that the perpetrators are prosecuted, if Turkey is to enter into open negotiations with the European Union about membership. Further cases like those against Alp Ayan must be stopped.”

The HRFT has played a major role domestically and internationally in the rehabilitation of torture victims and the documentation of torture. The IRCT urges the government of Turkey to 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.

The IRCT regrets that part of the media coverage in Turkey of the case against Dr. Ayan and the celebration of the UN Human Rights Day focused on the sexual identity of Mr. Torben Lund. In his home country and abroad, Torben Lund is open about his homosexuality. The priority of the concerned media was evidently planned and co-ordinated with the sole purpose to shift focus from torture and other violations of human rights in Turkey.

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

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