The European Association of Lawyers is a member of the Defense of Defenders – a network of international organizations devoted to protecting human rights lawyers, who are threatened, persecuted or harassed. The responsible person in the AEA-EAL is Magdalena Witkowska, Chair of the Human Rights Committee.

Trial on killing Tahir Elci

On March 3rd, 2021 before the Diyarbakir 10th Heavy Penal Court, a hearing in the case concerning Tahir Elci’s killing is taking place. Despite of declarations from high officials, both the investigation and the trial in Court raise serious doubts on its transparency and its correctness. Therefore, the European Association of Lawyers (AEA-EAL) issued a letter to Minister of Justice of the Republic of Turkey pointing out a number of problems noticed by independent organisations supervising the trial.

We also endorsed a UN urgent action letter on Failure of Turkey to effectively investigate Tahir Elçi’s killing and calling United Nations to undertake urgent steps to secure the fair trail.

Both letters can be found below for download:

AEA-EAL letter Turkey

UN Letter Turkey

Tahir Elçi ((1966 – 28 November 2015) was a Kurdish lawyer and the Dean of Diyarbakır Bar Association.

In 1993 he was became a lawyer, and a member of the Cizre Bar Association and defending people against the Turkish state at the European Commission of Human Rights (ECHR). In November 1993 he was detained and on the 10 December 1993 he was remanded to prison accused of links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s armed wing. He was released from custody on 17 February 1994 together with other defendants. Between 1996 and 2006 he was active at the Diyarbakir Bar association as a manager and in 2012 he was elected its Dean.

On 23 March 2014, he was the lawyer in the Kuşkonar massacre case in the ECHR, in which Turkey was condemned for massacring Kurdish civilians and blaming the PKK. Elçi was detained several times and received death threats after saying the banned PKK should not be regarded as a terrorist organization. In October 2015, Elçi was detained by Turkish authorities and accused of disseminating „terrorist propaganda” after having said in an interview with CNN Türk, that the PKK was not a terrorist organization.

He was killed in the Sur district of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on 28 November 2015. He was shot during a shootout between police and members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the PKK’s youth wing, following a press statement during which he had been calling for an end to violence between the PKK and the Turkish state.

Two members of the YDG-H shot and killed two police officers and fled down the Yenikapı street, where Tahir Elçi was holding the press conference beside the „Four-legged Minaret” of the Sheikh Matar Mosque. As the YDG-H militants ran down the street and past the scene of the press conference, police officers opened fire on them. Elçi was shot in the back of the head during the shootout and the YDG-H militants escaped.

The same day, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDA) condemned the assassination and called for an independent investigation. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called the shooting a „planned assassination,” and protests erupted in Turkey after Elçi’s killing. Elçi’s brother Ahmet Elçi was quoted as saying that his brother was „murdered by the state.”

Following the murder, Turkish authorities announced the „we aren’t ruling out the possibility that a third party directly targeted him.” In June 2016, Turkish authorities claimed that a captured militant witnessed PKK militants Uğur Yakışır and Mahsum Gürkhan open fire upon Tahir Elçi the moment he was killed. But in 2019, Forensic Architecture conducted an independent investigation on behalf of the Diyarbakır Bar Association and analyzed the killing. They concluded that the likely fatal shot probably came from police officers involved in the shootout and not from the escaping PKK militants. The investigation did not conclude whether the shot that killed Elçi was deliberate.

Express your solidarity with Belarussian lawyers

We invite all of you to join two actions that shows solidarity of legal community with detained Belarussian Colleagues:

1. Postcard for imprisoned Lawyers in Belarus

This project advocates for all Belarusian lawyers persecuted and imprisoned on political grounds. Its aim is to demonstrate our support and firmly oppose to violations of their professional and human rights. At the moment the project involves three Belarusian lawyers who were arrested due to their involvement in Belarusian democracy movement.

Who are they?

1. Mrs Liliya Vlasova, is an experienced lawyer and a well-known legal mediator. After presidential election she joined the presidium of the Belarusian Coordination Council.
2. Mr Maxim Znak, is an advocate and a Doctor of Law. After presidential election he joined the presidium of the Belarusian Coordination Council.
3. Mr Ilja Salej, is an advocate, who began his legal practice in 2019. Recently he represented Maria Kolesnikova (member of the presidium of the Belarusian Coordination Council).

How can we help?

There are many forms of delivering them help, however at this stage we would like to encourage you to send a postcard to one or more imprisoned Belarusian lawyers. One of the examples of the postcards can be a view of your city or symbols of your country to show geographically wide scope of solidarity.

– Text should be politically neutral;
– It is important to indicate the addressee’s full name on the postcard or envelope;
– If you would like to get a response from a prisoner, add a blank sheet of paper and a new envelope to your letter.

Below we present an example of the content of the postcard.

Dear Colleague, Dear Friend,
I express my support and solidarity with you. I respect your fight for human rights and for fundamental values of the legal profession. I am a lawyer from ……………… and our entire community is deeply concerned about the situation in Belarus. My thoughts are with you. You will not be forgotten!

With all my admiration and appreciation,

Nevertheless, please do not hesitate to write something from yourself, this is only an example of the postcard.

Address details:

1. Liliya Vladimirovna Vlasova, 1 Pretrial isolation Centre, st. Volodarskogo 2, 220030 Minsk, Belarus
2. Maxim Alexandrovich Znak, 1 Pretrial isolation Centre, st. Volodarskogo 2, 220030 Minsk, Belarus
3. Ilja Wasiljewicz Salej, 1 Pretrial isolation Centre, st. Volodarskogo 2, 220030 Minsk, Belarus

1. Лилия Владимировна Власова, СИЗО 1, ул. Володарского, 2, 220030 Минск, Беларусь
2. Максим Аляксандравіч Знак, СИЗО 1, ул. Володарского, 2, 220030 Минск, Беларусь
3. Илия Васильевич Салей, СИЗО 1, ул. Володарского, 2, 220030 Минск, Беларусь

2. Solidarity banner on your website

You can find below banners (in four languages) that can be published on your website. We will be delighted if you encourage your Bar/Organization as well as individual colleagues to publish flyers on their websites as well.


Statement on Belarus

The European Association of Lawyers (AEA-EAL) has been approached by the Human Rights Foundation in Oslo and by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland with the request to support statement on situation of lawyers in Belarus. Advocates faces many obstacles, threats and – some of them – are imprisoned for performing their professional duties. Please find below text of the Statement (in English and in Russian), cosigned by the number of Bar Associations and organizations of lawyers:

Open statement in connection with the detention of Belarusian lawyers Ilya Salei and Maksim Znak
September 10, 2020

We express our deep concern at the detention of lawyers Ilya Salei and Maksim Znak on September 9, 2020, in Belarus, in a criminal case which is undeniably politically motivated. We consider this to be a gross violation and interference with their professional legal activities and with their rights to express professional opinions, as established by international legal standards. This case is a direct consequence of a dire situation, problems and violations of professional rights of attorneys and lawyers and overall functioning of the legal profession in the Republic of Belarus. These problems were highlighted by both international organizations and representatives of the legal community before.

According to information posted on the website of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, “the investigation of the criminal case opened by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus under Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. At the moment, in the course of the investigation, evidence has been obtained that testify to the commission by individuals of a non-governmental organization called the Coordination Council, actions aimed at destabilizing the socio-political, economic situation and public awareness in the country, causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus. These actions were carried out using the media and internet resources. With regard to the suspects Maria Kolesnikova and Maksim Znak, with the approval of the prosecutor, a preventive measure was chosen in the form of detention. Ilya Salei was also detained on suspicion of committing this crime.”

However, detained Ilya Salei is a lawyer of Maria Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of the Belarusian protest movement and a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, who is also in jail. Second detained lawyer Maksim Znak was representing Viktor Babariko, who ran for the President of the Republic of Belarus, but was not allowed to register as a candidate and was recognized as a political prisoner. Maksim Znak was also an attorney for the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, on whose behalf he created the Coordination Council. As a member of the Presidium of the Coordinating Council, Maxim Znak was providing legal assistance as an attorney. Maxim Znak’s lawyer Dmitry Laevsky notes: „all his statements, appeals, comments were public, transparent, their content was absolutely legal and did not carry any illegal intentions.”

We would like to emphasize that, in accordance with the United Nation’s Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers , governments must ensure that lawyers can perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference. Lawyers, like other citizens, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights, and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful actions or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers with a report about the situation of lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei. The report called for urgent action to be taken in connection with the detention of the lawyers and requested to send an urgent message to the Government of Belarus on the need to comply with the Basic Principles concerning the role of lawyers.

Belarusian lawyers and jurists have made an open statement in connection with the detention of their colleagues.
We also demand from the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to:
– immediately release lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei and comply with international legal standards of the independence of legal profession and the exercise of the right to defense;
– stop the persecution of lawyers and attorneys who are exercising their constitutional right of free expression by expressing their opinions while performing professional functions;
– strictly observe the provisions of Art. 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus: “everyone has the right to exercise and protect rights and freedoms, including the right to use at any time the assistance of lawyers and their other representatives in court, other state bodies, local government bodies, at enterprises, institutions, organizations, public associations and in relations with officials and citizens. Opposition to the provision of legal assistance in the Republic of Belarus is prohibited by law.”

1. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
2. ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
3. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe
4. The Bar Association of Luxembourg
5. The Swedish Bar Association
6. The French and German speaking bars association of Belgium AVOCATS.BE
7. The European Association of Lawyers AEA-EAL
8. Lawyers for Lawyers, The Netherlands
9. FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
10. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, Serbia
11. OMCT World Organisation Against Torture
12. Human Rights House Foundation, Norway
13. Centre de la protection internationale, France
14. Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Lithuania
15. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), Belgium
16. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee
17. Freedom Now, USA
18. Crude Accountability, USA
19. All-Ukrainian Association of Lawyers Providing Free Legal Aid – Odesa Division, Ukraine
20. Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Russia
21. Pskov Regional Human Rights Environmental Public Movement „Svobodnyi Bereg”, Russia
22. Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Ukraine
23. German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg
24. Stichting CAAT Projects, The Netherlands
25. MEMORIAL Deutschland e. V. Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, Germany
26. Legal Policy Research Center, Kazakhstan
27. Public Association Dignity, Kazakhstan
28. Human Rights Movement „Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”
29. Belarusian Helsinki Committee
30. Human Constanta, Belarus
31. Center for Participation and Development, Georgia
32. Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor, Armenia
33. Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Ukraine
34. SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, Russia
35. Souchastiye v Sud’be, Blagotvoritel’nyy Tsentr, Russia
36. Human Rights Embassy, Moldova
37. Libereco Partnership for Human Rights, Germany
38. Public Verdict Foundation, Russia
39. Human Rights Group „Grazhdanin, armia, pravo”, Russia
40. DRA – German-Russian Exchange, Germany
41. Social Action Centre, Ukraine
42. Helsinki Committee of Armenia
43. Helsinki association, Armenia
44. Macedonian Helsinki Committee
45. Swedish OSCE-network
46. Albanian Helsinki Committee
47. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
48. Women of the Don, Russia
49. Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia
50. Human Rights House Zagreb, Croatia
51. Human Rights Center, Georgia
52. Mogilev Human Rights Center, Belarus
53. Netherlands Helsinki Committee
54. Human Rights Center ZMINA, Ukraine
55. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
56. „Ekumena” Center, Belarus
57. Youth Memorial – Perm, Russia
58. Human Rights House in Chernihiv, Ukraine
59. The Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
60. Östgruppen – Swedish initiative for democracy and human rights, Sweden
61. IDP Women Association Consent, Georgia
62. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Kazakhstan
63. Czech Bar Association, The Czech Republic (tbc)
64. Civil Initiative Against Lawlessness in Courts and Prosecutor’s Office, Belarus
65. AED-EDL (Avocat.e.s Européennes Démocrates / European Democratic Lawyers), Barcelona, Spain
66. Freedom House, USA
67. Independent Social Ecological Movement – NESEHNUTI, Brno, The Czech Republic
68. Stichting CAAT Projects, the Netherlands
69. La Asociación Libre de Abogados, Spain
70. RAW for Women and Girl Survivors of War (Raw in War)
71. Citizens Network Watchdog, Poland
72. ORDRE DES AVOCATS DE PARIS / Paris Bar, France
73. The Сouncil of the Warsaw Bar Association of Advocates, Poland
74. Russian LGBT Network
75. Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
76. Freedom of Religion and Believe – FORB, Belarus
77. Human Rights Center Memorial, Russia

78. Khusanbai Saliev, lawyer, Bir Duino-Osh, Kyrgyzstan
79. Valerian Vakhitov, lawyer, Bir Duino-Osh, Kyrgyzstan
80. Lyudmila Ulyashina, Human Rights Advocate, PhD in Law, Associate Professor, European Humanities University
81. Lyubov Moseyeva-Elye, Legal Adviser, Kaluga Movement For Human Rights, Russia
82. Magomed Mutsolgov, journalist and human rights activist, Ingushetia, Russia
83. Dina Shautsova, Lawyer, Belarus

Belarus Statement_lawyers_Ilia Saley_Maksim Znak_ost

Открытое заявление в связи с задержанием белорусских адвокатов Ильи Салея и Максима Знака
10 сентября 2020 года

Мы выражаем глубокое возмущение задержанием 9 сентября 2020 года в Беларуси адвокатов Ильи Салея и Максима Знака в рамках политически-мотивированного уголовного дела. Считаем это грубым вмешательством в возможность свободного и беспрепятственного осуществления их профессиональной юридической деятельности и права на выражения адвокатами своего профессионального мнения, гарантированных международно-правовыми стандартами. Данная ситуация является прямым следствием множества проблем и нарушений в области осуществления права на защиту и функционирования адвокатуры в целом в Республике Беларусь, на которые уже не раз обращали внимание как международные организации, так и представители адвокатского сообщества.

По информации, размещенной на сайте Главного следственного управления Следственного комитета Республики Беларусь «продолжается расследование уголовного дела, возбужденного Генеральной прокуратурой Республики Беларусь по ч.3 ст. 361 Уголовного кодекса Республики Беларусь. В настоящий момент в ходе расследования получены доказательства, свидетельствующие о совершении отдельными лицами, входящими в состав негосударственной организации, именуемой «Координационный совет», действий, направленных на дестабилизацию социально-политической, экономической и информационной обстановки в стране, причинении вреда национальной безопасности Республики Беларусь. Указанные действия совершались с использованием СМИ и интернет-ресурсов. В отношении подозреваемых Марии Колесниковой и Максима Знака с санкции прокурора избрана мера пресечения в виде заключения под стражу. Также по подозрению в совершении указанного преступления задержан Илья Салей».

Однако Илья Салей является адвокатом находящейся в СИЗО Марии Колесниковой, одной из лидерок белорусского протестного движения, члена Президиума Координационного совета . Максим Знак был адвокатом Виктора Бабарико, баллотировавшегося в Президенты Республики Беларусь, но не зарегистрированного кандидатом и признанного политическим заключенным, а также – адвокатом бывшего кандидата в Президенты Светланы Тихановской, по поручению которой он предпринимал действия по созданию Координационного совета. Являясь членом Президиума Координационного Совета, Максим Знак осуществлял адвокатскую деятельность, которая заключалась в оказании юридической помощи. Как отмечает адвокат Максима Знака Дмитрий Лаевский: «все его заявления, обращения, комментарии были публичными, прозрачными, их содержание было абсолютно законным и не несло в себе каких-то незаконных намерений».

Хотим подчеркнуть, что в соответствии с Основными принципами, касающимися роли юристов , правительства должны обеспечить, чтобы юристы могли выполнять все свои профессиональные обязанности в обстановке, свободной от угроз, препятствий, запугивания или неоправданного вмешательства. Юристы, как и другие граждане, имеют право на свободу выражения мнения, убеждений и собраний. В частности, они имеют право принимать участие в общественных дискуссиях по вопросам, касающимся права, отправления правосудия и поощрения и защиты прав человека, и быть членами местных, национальных или международных организаций или создавать их и принимать участие в их заседаниях, не подвергаясь ограничению своей профессиональной деятельности вследствие своих законных действий или членства в законной организации.

Белорусский Хельсинкский Комитет обратился к Специальному докладчику ООН по вопросу о независимости судей и адвокатов с сообщением о ситуации с адвокатами Максимом Знаком и Ильей Салеем , где призвал предпринять незамедлительные действия в связи с задержанием адвокатов и направить правительству Беларуси срочное сообщение о необходимости соблюдения основных принципов, касающихся роли юристов.

Белорусские адвокаты и юристы сделали открытое заявление в связи с задержанием их коллег.
Мы также требуем от властей Республики Беларусь:
– незамедлительно освободить адвокатов Максима Знака и Илью Салея и соблюдать международно-правовые гарантии независимости адвокатской деятельности и реализации права на защиту;
– прекратить преследование юристов и адвокатов, которые, реализуя конституционное право на свободное выражение мнений и убеждений , высказывают свое мнение в рамках профессиональной деятельности;
– неукоснительно соблюдать положения ст. 62 Конституции Республики Беларусь: «каждый имеет право для осуществления и защиты прав и свобод, в том числе права пользоваться в любой момент помощью адвокатов и других своих представителей в суде, иных государственных органах, органах местного управления, на предприятиях, в учреждениях, организациях, общественных объединениях и в отношениях с должностными лицами и гражданами. Противодействие оказанию правовой помощи в Республике Беларусь запрещено законом» .
1. Хельсинкский фонд по правам человека, Польша
2. ARTICLE 19, Великобритания
3. Совет коллегий адвокатов и юридических обществ Европы (CCBE)
4. Коллегия адвокатов Люксембурга
5. Коллегия адвокатов Швеции
6. Ассоциация франко- и немецкоязычных адвокатов Бельгии AVOCATS.BE
7. Европейская ассоциация юристов AEA-EAL
8. Lawyers for Lawyers, Нидерланды
9. Международная Федерация за права человека
10. Комитет юристов по правам человека «YUCOM», Сербия
11. Всемирная организация против пыток
12. Фонд домов прав человека, Норвегия
13. Центр международной защиты, Франция
14. Институт мониторинга прав человека, Литва
15. Международное партнерство за права человека, Бельгия
16. Норвежский Хельсинкский комитет
17. Freedom Now, США
18. Crude Accountability, США
19. Одесское обособленное подразделение Общественной организации „Всеукраинское объединение адвокатов, оказывающих бесплатную правовую помощь”, Украина
20. Центр развития демократии и прав человека, Россия
21. Псковское региональное правозащитное экологическое общественное движение «Свободный берег», Россия
22. Харьковский региональный фонд «Общественная альтернатива», Украина
23. Немецко-русский обмен, Санкт-Петербург, Россия
24. Stichting CAAT Projects, Нидерланды
25. MEMORIAL Deutschland e. V. Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, Германия
26. Центр исследования правовой политики, Казахстан
27. ОО «Кадiр-касиет», Казахстан
28. Общественное объединение «Правозащитное движение: Бир Дуйно Кыргызстан»
29. Белорусский Хельсинкский Комитет
30. Human Constanta, Беларусь
31. Center for Participation and Development, Грузия
32. Хельсинкская гражданская ассамблея – Ванадзор, Армения
33. Ассоциация украинских мониторов соблюдения прав человека в деятельности правоохранительных органов, Украина
34. Информационно-аналитический центр „Сова”, Россия
35. Благотворительный центр «Соучастие в судьбе», Россия
36. Посольство прав человека, Молдова
37. Партнерство по правам человека «Либерэко», Германия
38. Фонд «Общественный вердикт», Россия
39. Правозащитная группа „Гражданин.Армия.Право”
40. ДРА – Немецко-русский обмен, Германия
41. Центр «Социальное действие», Украина
42. Хельсинкский комитет Армении
43. Хельсинкская Ассоциация, Армения
44. Македонский Хельсинкский комитет
45. Сеть ОБСЕ, Швеция
46. Албанский Хельсинкский комитет
47. Болгарский Хельсинкский комитет
48. Женщины Дона, Россия
49. Московская Хельсинкская группа, Россия
50. Дом прав человека – Загреб, Хорватия
51. Центр прав человека, Грузия
52. Общественное объединение Могилёвский правозащитный центр, Беларусь
53. Нидерландский Хельсинкский комитет
54. Центр по правам человека «ЗМИНА», Украина
55. Беларусский дом прав человека им. Б. Звозскова
56. Центр “Экумена”, Беларусь
57. Молодёжный Мемориал, г. Пермь, Россия
58. Образовательный дом прав человека – Чернигов, Украина
59. Грузинский центр психосоциальной и медицинской реабилитации жертв пыток
60. Östgruppen – Swedish initiative for democracy and human rights, Швеция
61. Ассоциация вынужденно переселенных женщин «Согласие», Грузия
62. Казахстанское международное бюро по правам человека и соблюдению законности, Казахстан
63. Чешская коллегия адвокатов, Чешская Республика (подтверждается)
64. Гражданская инициатива против беззакония в судах и прокуратуре, Беларусь
65. AED-EDL (Avocat.e.s Européennes Démocrates), Барселона, Испания
66. Freedom House, США
67. Независимое социально-экологическое движение – NESEHNUTI, Брно, Чешская Республика
68. Stichting CAAT Projects, Нидерланды
69. La Asociación Libre de Abogados, Испания
70. RAW for Women and Girl Survivors of War (Raw in War)
71. Гражданская сеть Watchdog, Польша
72. Парижская коллегия адвокатов, Франция
73. Областной адвокатский Cовет Варшавской ассоциации адвокатов, Польша
74. Российская ЛГБТ-сеть, Россия
75. Правление Гражданского форума ЕС-Россия
76. Экспертно-правовое товарищество «Инициатива FORB», Беларусь
77. Правозащитный Центр „Мемориал”, Россия

78. Хусанбай Салиев, адвокат Бир Дуйно-Ош, Кыргызстан
79. Валерьян Вахитов, адвокат Бир Дуйно-Ош, Кыргызстан
80. Людмила Ульяшина, адвокат прав человека, доктор права, ассоциированный профессор, руководитель Комитета Программы „Международное право и право ЕС”, Европейский гуманитарный университет
81. Любовь Мосеева-Элье, юрисконсульт Калужского движения „За права человека”
82. Магомед Муцольгов, журналист и правозащитник Ингушетия, Российская Федерация
83. Дина Шавцова, юрист, Беларусь

Заявление_адвокаты_Илья Салей_Максим Знак_ost

Call to sign the petition: free Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal

AEA-EAL Human Rights Committee supports  a call that has been designated by our colleagues in Turkey and aim to bring, another time, the international and Turkey colleagues together. We are collecting signatures for the attached call. It is a very short statement calling on the Turkish authorities to release Ebru and Aytac on pending trial, again, and also letting Ebru and Aytac know that we, as their colleagues, need them with us in our struggle for the rule of law and protection of our clients’ fair trial rights.

This call is open for signatures from individual lawyers. If you would like to sign, please follow the link below and write down your name and surname. It is a very quick and straightforward process.

Petition is open for signing here.

The deadline for this action is 21 August 2020 (Friday).


AEA-EAL has been approached by Turkish Lawyers the cases of human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on hunger strike since February 2020. Five major international organizations of lawyers (Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, International Association of Lawyers, Law Society of England and Wales, International Bar Association Human Rights Institute and Lawyers for Lawyers) agreed a statement in defense of their Turkish colleagues (see below). Our Association has been invited to co-sign the Statement.

Moreover, AEA-EAL was invited to participate the online conference on the situation of lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal and their ongoing hunger strike, which took place yesterday afternoon. Maria Ślązak participated in this event as well as expressed our support for persecuted Turkish colleagues.

Statement of international organizations of lawyers

Lawyers on hunger strike near death
The undersigned organisations have been following recent developments in the cases of human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on hunger strike since February 2020. On 5 April 2020, the Turkish Day of the Lawyer, Timtik and Ünsal announced that they would persist in their hunger strike even if it leads to their deaths. Their health is deteriorating quickly, and they are now being held in hospital.

Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal are part of a group of eighteen lawyers who have been convicted and sentenced to long-term imprisonment. They are all members of the Progressive Lawyers Association (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği, ÇHD) and People’s Law Office (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu), known for their representation of clients who are considered opponents of the Turkish government. In a profoundly unfair trial, these lawyers have been sentenced to many years of imprisonment for alleged terrorist- related offences. Ebru Timtik has been sentenced to 13 years and 6 months and Aytaç Ünsal to 10 years and 6 months, both for membership of a terrorist organisation.
From the beginning of their trial, many incidents occurred that raised concerns about the impartiality and independence of the proceedings. For instance, the judges who initially ordered the release of the lawyers from pre-trial detention were removed from the case, and the released lawyers were re-arrested; some witnesses’ identities were kept anonymous and they testified remotely by video link system (SEGBIS), not in person, which prevented their identity or free will to testify from being verified. It also prevented the defence from being able to effectively examine the witnesses. In addition, the charged lawyers were frequently interrupted or escorted out of the courtroom during the hearings. After challenging the Chief Justice on the grounds of lack of impartiality, the lawyers’ requests for recusal of the bench were repeatedly rejected by the court, and their unjust treatment continued.
On 20 March 2019, the judgement was delivered. An appeal to the Istanbul Regional Court of Appeal was rejected in October 2019. A further appeal before the Supreme Court is pending.

Hunger strike
Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal are on hunger strike to strengthen their demand for fair trials and the administration of justice in Turkey. Turkey is bound to uphold the right to a fair trial according to a number of international treaties of which Turkey is a signatory, including Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Timtik and Ünsal are demanding that these obligations are observed not only for themselves, but also for all others who are on trial or in prison without having their fair trial rights respected.
Their wish is to ensure that the Turkish authorities observe the rule of law in Turkey. We support them unequivocally in these demands and objectives and aim to ensure that the world is aware of their plight. We urge the Turkish authorities to address these demands without delay, starting by giving the detained lawyers in this case the opportunity to await the outcome of their current appeal in freedom. We also urge the Supreme Court to conclude the appeal of 18 lawyers with due consideration being given to the serious violations by the lower court of the lawyers’ rights to a fair trial and the protections to which they are entitled as lawyers.We are gravely concerned for the safety of Timtik and Ünsal and urge that the Turkish government act quickly to ensure their rights.


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