Turkey: Threats and attack of human rights lawyer Aytekin Akta? and repression of the “Life Watch” movement

The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Turkey on 19 July 2023. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this time frame. If a reply is received it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=28232


Topics: the threats and alleged attack, possibly amounting to torture, of Aytekin Akta? while he attempted to carry out his professional duties as a human rights lawyer assisting members of the “Life Watch” protests; the alleged repression of the “Life Watch” movement by the Gendarmerie which in some cases involves threats and physical violence.

Mr. Aytekin Akta? is a human rights lawyer and human rights defender. He is a member of the organisation Progressive Lawyers Association (Ça?da? Hukukçular Derne?i – ÇHD) as well as the group Lawyers for Justice (Adalet ?çin Hukukçular). Since the earthquake on 6 February 2023 gravely affected Turkey, Mr. Akta? has been offering his legal services on a voluntary basis to those impacted by the disaster.

The “Life Watch” movement started on 3 April 2023 in the Samanda? district of the Hatay province, in response to the hazardous practices adopted in the earthquake crisis management. The initiative seeks to draw attention to the health and environmental risks associated with this management, namely the lack of sufficient measures taken by public health policy to protect against these risks. The movement is made up of citizens living in the area who are earthquake survivors, and includes environmental human rights defenders, ecology activists, representatives of local civil society organizations, unions, professional bodies and political parties. Among their activities, they have campaigned to raise awareness on these concerns, issuing press statements in relation to the problematic management of the earthquake. They have also voiced their concerns publicly, holding conferences and peaceful protests.

Their demands include covering of the debris during transport to reduce the spread of substances such as silicas, heavy metal paint and asbestos; better measurement of air to identify the presence of these substances; and occupational health training for those engaged in piling the rubble. Protests held over several days during April 2023 by the “Life Watch” movement were met with violence by Gendarmerie.







https://www.fidh.org/tr/avrupa/turkiye/turkiye-insan-haklari-avukati-aytekin-aktas-a-yonelik-iskence (TURKCE)