Ayer falleció Ebru Timtik…

Ayer falleció Ebru Timtik.

No es una muerte como las otras.

Murió para defender el derecho a defender a los prisioneros ante un tribunal, y para defenderlos siguiendo las garantías también previstas por el CEDH.

Murió sin poder ser asistida y sin poder ser acompañada de sus seres queridos.

Su batalla de hoy es la de todos los Abogados de Europa, especialmente por la seguridad de su compañero Aytac Unsal.

La Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la FBE también velará por las condiciones de este compañero aún encarcelado e insta a todas las Instituciones europeas e internacionales que intercedan ante el Gobierno turco para que se encuentre una solución positiva.

Open letter to the Secretary Genral of the United Nations and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in support of Dr Denis MUKWEGE, Nobel Peace Prize winner

The European Bars Federation (FBE) supports Dr Denis MUKWEGE, Nobel Peace Prize winner whose life is threatened and has sent, together with other national and international organizations, an open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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.   


 This statement was endorsed by:

The Foundation day of the Endangered Lawyer

The Dutch League for Human Rights 

Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe

European Bars Federation (FBE)

European Bars Federation Human Rights Commission

Avocat.e.s Européennes Démocrates / European Democratic Lawyers

The Defence of the Defence Commission of the Barcelona Bar Association

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Lyon Bar Association

Asociación Americana de Juristas

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

The International Legal Intervention Group

Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific
Nepal Lawyers Association

European Criminal Bar Association

Norwegian Bar Association

European Association of Lawyers

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

The Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers. 

European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights

Arab Lawyers Association

Defense Sans Frontiere-Avocats Solidaires (DSF-AS)

Osservatorio UCPI Avvocati Minacciati

Rotterdam Bar Association

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal – Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals

The Presidents of nine Turkish Bar Associations including those in Turkey’s largest cities of İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir in a video message called for the release of lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on a death fast since April 5, demanding a fair trial for the two attorneys.

Timtik and Ünsal have been in prison since September 12, 2018 on charges of membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front (DHKP-C). On March 20, 2019, the Istanbul 37th High Criminal Court sentenced Timtik to 13 years, six months and Ünsal to 10 years, six months. According to the ruling the two were accused of “communicating the organization’s messages to captured members and acting as couriers.” Their cases are currently before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.

In their messages the presidents of the bar associations asked the Supreme Court of Appeals to allow Timtik and Ünsal to have a fair trial and release them. İzmir Bar Association President Özkan Yücel asked, “To those who are keeping their files at the Supreme Court of Appeals for a long time, don’t you realize Ebru and Aytaç are dying?”

The two lawyers had taken on important cases such as a mining disaster in Soma that took the lives of 301 miners; the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who was hit on the head with a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer during the June 2013 anti-government protests in Turkey that are known as the Gezi protests; and the death of Engin Çeber in prison due to torture.

On June 4, 2020 Istanbul Bar Association President Mehmet Durakoğlu said “there was no concrete evidence and that the entire case was based on the testimony of a secret witness who has been used by the prosecution in a variety of cases”.

Last month, the secret witness, İ.Ö., sent a petition to Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals and said his testimony should not be taken into consideration due to his mental problems, including hallucinations. The petition was submitted by İ.Ö.’s attorney and included medical reports that support his claim.

The Presidency of the FBE in its meeting of 27 July, 2020 decided to support the Turkish Lawyers Ebru Tomtik and Aytac Unsal for their critical situation demanding a fairly judgement to the local Authorities.

Artur Wierzbicki

Human Rights Commission FBE

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “ISTANBUL CONVENTION” Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

Countries in Europe that:

  • have signed and ratified the convention (green), among them Poland
  • signed the convention (yellow)

Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, colloquially the “Istanbul Convention” – a convention for the protection of human rights developed by the Council of Europe in to combat violence against women and domestic violence, which was opened for signature on 11 May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Convention aims to combat violence, protect victims and “end the impunity of perpetrators”. Until 2020, it was signed by 45 countries and the European Union. As of March 14, 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the convention, followed by a further 33 countries between 2013 and 2019.

The document provides a framework for legal prevention of all forms of violence against women at the European level, as well as for the prevention, prosecution and elimination of violence against women and domestic violence. The convention also provides a special monitoring mechanism to ensure that its provisions are effectively implemented by the parties that have ratified it.

The Convention consists of 81 articles divided into 12 chapters. The structure of the document is based on four issues: prevention; protection and support for victims; prosecution of criminals and integration policy. There are a number of specific ways of doing things in each area. The convention also lays down obligations to collect data and support research in the field of violence against women (Article 11).

The preamble refers to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, as well as the international human rights treaties of the United Nations and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In art. 2 of this Convention indicates that these provisions apply in peacetime as well as in situations of armed conflict in the field of violence against women and domestic violence.

What’s important:

Article 3 defines key terms:

“Violence against women” is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women, including any act of violence on the basis of sex, which causes or may lead to physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts , situations of coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, both in public and private life;

“Domestic violence” means any act of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence within the family or household, or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator and victim share a residence;

‘Gender’ means the socially constructed roles, behaviors, actions and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women or men;

“Gender-based violence against women” means violence directed against a woman on the basis of her gender or such violence that affects women in particular;

Article 4 prohibits a number of types of discrimination by stating: “The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be guaranteed without discrimination on the basis of: biological sex, cultural and social gender, race, color, language, religion, political opinion and other, national or social origin, membership of a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, health condition, disability, marital status, refugee or migrant status or other ”.

In July 2020, the Polish Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, declared the start of the process of formal withdrawal from the convention. He said the treaty is harmful because it requires schools to educate children about gender in an ideological way and it devalues biological sex.

In Warsaw, hundreds of people demonstrated against the denunciation of the convention.

On July 27, 2020, the Ministry of Justice sent an application to the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy to start work on the termination of the Istanbul Convention.

On July 26, the statement was issued by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (who adopted the document), Marija Pejčinović Burić: “The announcements of the Polish government that Poland should terminate the Istanbul Convention are alarming. The Istanbul Convention is the Council of Europe’s fundamental international treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence – and that is its sole purpose. If there are any disagreements on the Convention, we will resolve them through constructive dialogue. Exiting the Istanbul Convention would be regrettable and would be a huge step backwards in protecting women from violence in Europe.””

The foregoing indicates that we must be vigilant at all times that no one tries to limit or exclude the human rights of both women and men in any way.

Artur Wierzbicki

FBE Human Rights Commission

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Turkey’s multiple bar associations law

Turkey’s Constitutional Court last days rejected an appeal for a stay of execution of a recently enacted law changing the structure of bar associations and allowing for multiple bar associations in a province.

The disputed law is expected to strengthen small provincial bars at the expense of the large associations in major cities that are perceived to be more critical, and it was passed despite strong objections by lawyers who took to the streets to protest what they viewed as a political encroachment on their profession.

The plan was also criticized by rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists, who described it as a calculated move to divide the legal profession along political lines and diminish the biggest bar associations’ role as human rights watchdogs.

Also Turkey’s Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal from the main opposition party to abrogate a coronavirus release law that allowed some 90,000 inmates to be released due to the pandemic while excluding political prisoners

It is excluded prisoners who were charged with terrorism, an arbitrarily and widely used charge in Turkey, especially lately for dissidents, including judges, prosecutors, journalists, lawyers and artists.

Artur Wierzbicki



Hagia Sophia (Greek γία Σοφία, Aja Sofia; Turkish Ayasofya) – a mosque in Istanbul, and in the past a Christian temple and a museum. Considered the greatest building and architecture of the first millennium AD.

The original building was built as the Church of God’s Wisdom (also known as the Great Church). It was the highest-ranking temple in the Byzantine Empire, the patriarch’s cathedral and the place of prayers and coronations of the Byzantine emperors, an unmatched model of a perfect temple over the centuries and almost a symbol of the Byzantine Church. Founded by Justinian I the Great, it was built in its present form between February 23, 532 and December 27, 537. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, it was converted into a mosque (then minarets were added). The temple was to be overshadowed by the Blue Mosque built in the 17th century.

From 1934 to July 2020, the temple acted as a museum. After the decision of the Turkish administrative court to invalidate the 1934 decree and the decision of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it was again converted into a mosque.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey became a secular republic. Consequently, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ordered in 1934 that the temple, which had served Christians for 916 years and Muslims for 481 years, should be changed into a museum. At that time, carpets were removed from the floor and plaster from the walls, revealing some mosaics. Mainly the mosaics in the upper galleries were exposed, while those in the main nave remained mostly covered. In 2009, the metal stars covering the faces of two seraphim were removed.

In 1979, during his pilgrimage to Turkey, Hagia Sofia was visited by Pope John Paul II, in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, and in 2014 by Pope Francis.

In 2016, for the first time since the statutory secularization of the temple in 1935, the muezzin intoned an esan inside the temple, the call of Muslims to prayer. The event was broadcast live on the state television TRT. It is assumed that the departure from the secular nature of the museum was ordered by President Recep Erdoğan.

In July 2020, an administrative court in Turkey overturned the 1934 decree transforming Hagia Sofia into a museum. After this decision, the president of this country issued a document stating that from 24 July this place will once again serve as a mosque, i.e. a place of prayer for Muslims.

The authorities of the USA, France and Greece protested against such a decision, as well as Jerome II, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, spiritual head of about 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world. Pope Francis also expressed sadness over this decision.

The reason for numerous objections in this matter was the fact that the building was built as a Christian temple, which until 1453 was a place of worship for the followers of Eastern Christianity (from the 11th century Orthodox).

Artur Wierzbicki

FBE Human Rights Commission

Segunda videoconferencia con nuestros miembros “La FBE sigue en contacto #2” 6 de julio 2020

Te informamos que la FBE organizará próximamente una videoconferencia, “La FBE sigue en contacto #2“, durante la cual hablaremos informalmente con nuestros miembros sobre la situación actual y proyectos futuros.

Esta sesión virtual tendrá lugar el próximo 6 de julio a las 17:00 horas. En caso de que estés interesado en participar, te agradeceríamos nos comunicaraa la dirección de correo electrónico a la que deberemos enviar la invitación para la conferencia Zoom (fbe@fbe.org).

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Online conference on the persecution of lawyers in Turkey, June 11, 2020

Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, Lawyers for Lawyers and the Izmir Bar Association jointly organized the conference with the title: ‘Lawyers rights in peril: A discussion on the challenges to the integrity of the legal profession in Turkey amid the ongoing hungers strikes of the lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal’

The conference brought together lawyers, representatives from the Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakir bar associations and international lawyers organizations including Lawyers Rights Watch (Canada) and the FBE, and rights defenders to explore and discuss the current situation of lawyers in Turkey and their increasing persecution; the proposed reform of the bar associations and the threats to their independence; the ex-officio investigations that have been started against the bar associations of Diyarbakir and Ankara; the Parole Act exceptions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current situation of the two lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği, ÇHD) who have been on a hunger strike for over 100 days.

The conference was in two parts.

 Part 1, moderated by Tony Fisher, Law Society of England & Wales Human Rights Committee.

Baroness Helena Kennedy, Director of the IBA Human Rights Institute Key Note speaker introduced the theme. She addressed the problem of the rise of right wing populism as a response to globalism. Authoritarian regimes which do not protect the rule of law, and attack the free media. Human rights are abused in Turkey in the name of democracy because the government claims they were voted in. Populist leaders find scapegoats for what is going wrong. Gulensism is used as a cover for a power grab. Similar situation in South Africa, Malawi, Philippines and Hungary, where Orban has used covid19 as a power grab on the media. In the US Trump has denigrated the judicial system.

In Turkey there are mass trials, 4200 Judges and Prosecutors in detention, 634 of whom have been convicted and 500 administrative personnel have been dismissed. 34 lawyers’ associations have been shut down. The State of Emergency has been used against the justice system. There has been torture of lawyers.

There are now restrictions on how long a lawyer may spend with their client (law 6749), discussions between lawyers and their clients are tape recorded by the authorities, breaching legal professional privilege and confidentiality.

 Panel Discussion:  General introduction of the situation.  Ministry of Religious Affairs blaming homosexuals and pre – marital sex for the spread of HIV. When bar associations complain the government moves against the, currently introducing changes to the electoral system for bar associations.

 Ozkan Yucel of the Izmir Bar Association.

Lawyers in Izma are fighting fascism. After 9/11 security has been against freedom. Lawyers are the people who are raising tehir voices at the loss of freedoms. The government seeks to divide the big cities and divide the bar associations. The bar associations won’t let it happen, they will defend all lawyers. The consequence is that the bar association will be under investigation. They have tried to intervene in the trials of colleagues.  Spoke about the hunger strikes.

 Meltem Akyol Ankara Bar Association

  • Government has started investigations of the bar association because it published a report about torture and took a case against the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
  • The government is also introducing changes to the electoral procedure (proportional representation) to the bar associations without consultation. There are now multiple bar associations. At present every member is elected by their colleagues individually and not by a list as proposed with the government’s PR system. The government says that bar associations are political. If PR is introduced there will be discrimination, and access to justice will be denied.
  • Independent lawyers will not be able to work with lawyers who support the government.

Cihan Ayain, Diyarbakir Bar Association.

  • Reported on a chaotic situation, discrimination and crime rates are rising, there are very few fair trials. The ECHR functions very slowly and so there is little redress for human rights abuses.
  • The Bar Association is under investigation for press statements, and have received a noitice from the prosecutor. Press statements are used in evidence. This has a “freezing effect” on the activities of the lawyers. In general Turkish people have become more introverted and try not to see what is going on. Even a social media post can be an excuse for raid of houses and arrests. It is not just happening in the Kurdish part of the country, but all over Turkey.


Part Two  moderated by Irma Vandenberg.

Spoke about the altering of the law to prevent lawyers from doing human rights cases.

Didem Baydar Ünsal spoke about the hunger strikers, Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal.

Several Balikaya spoke about the dangers to lawyers who are in prison. The conditions are bad, and there is the risk of covid19.

This was followed by question and  answers.

There were contributions from Catherine Morris and Brian Samuels of Lawyers Rights Watch (Canada) and individual Turkish lawyers.

We were alerted to the recent Ministry of Interior leaflet accusing lawyers who are in prison  and on trial. The leaflet accuses the lawyers of being terrorists. The Supreme Court is still considering their cases and the verdict will come in  2 weeks. The Ministry is asking mainstream media to publish it. The leaflet is clearly designed to influence the decision in the trial.

  • We are asked: to take a stand against this interference with the trial.to put pressure through the EU, our own governments and the UN, through a collective effort rather than individual letters.
  • We were asked what are the best steps for escalation of advocacy, what steps within EU and UN?
  • We were asked which countries have the best levers with Turkey who may have influence.
  • How may we maximise the collective efforts of the human rights NGO’s?


 Recommendations for action:

International legal community and the human rights NGO’s should take joint efforts to put pressure on the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior Affairs to cease using the terrorist label against lawyers, to cease interference in the electoral procedure of the bar associations, to cease investigations of bar associations for their statements and legal actions against the government.

Ask the EU and the UN to take action.

Call on UK Government with its special relationship with Turkey to put pressure on Turkey


There were 74 participants in the conference.

FBE participants included:

  1. Artur Wierzbicki, President of the FBE Human Rights Committee / Bar Association of Poznan, Poland
  2. Professor Sara Chandler, QC (Hon) Past President of the FBE and member of the Human Rights Commission
  3. Peter Hannenberg, Dean of the Rotterdam Bar and member of the Human Rights Commission


Report from Conference 11 June 2020, done by prof S. Chandler