The International Association of Democratic Lawyers stands together in deep mourning and anger in response to the loss of people’s lawyer Ebru Timtik of Turkey, who persisted in her hunger strike over 238 days to demand justice in her own case and that of her fellow wrongfully imprisoned people’s lawyers in Turkey.
She and her colleagues, our IADL comrades of the Progressive Lawyers Association of Turkey (CHD), have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for practicing law and defending political prisoners held in Turkish jails.
Despite the fact that her health deterioration was obvious and visible, ignoring mounting international calls for her release, the Turkish state left Ebru Timtik to die as a martyr for justice and people’s rights and dignity.
Along with fellow members of the CHD in Turkey, including IADL Bureau member Selcuk Kozagacli and her fellow hunger striker Aytac Unsal, Ebru Timtik was arrested on 22 March 2019. They faced charges of membership in an armed or “terrorist” organization – based on their defense and representation of political prisoners before the Turkish courts. In a trial marked by clear prejudice, profound unfairness and completely lacking in fair trial guarantees, they were convicted and sentenced to 159 total years in prison. Ebru and Aytac launched their hunger strike for justice on 3 February 2020.
The IADL has joined with many lawyers around the world to defend the members of the CHD and the over 1500 lawyers who have been imprisoned by the Turkish state since 2016, mostly related to their legal defence of others facing political repression and persecution. Of course, Turkey’s abusive and unjust use of anti-terrorism laws against lawyers, labor organizers, journalists and activists long predates 2016, and the IADL has been involved with its member associations and legal organizations internationally in a series of fact-finding missions and trial monitoring delegations.
CHD members have even been accused of terrorism in 2013 for counseling their clients to remain silent. In reality, Ebru and her fellow CHD members, our IADL colleagues, have been attacked for defending labor rights, victims of police brutality, housing rights and political prisoners.
With our mourning and anger for our colleague Ebru Timtik, we also renew our dedication to fight for the release of imprisoned lawyers and other political prisoners in Turkey, including Aytac Unsal, who has continued his hunger strike after over 212 days.
Ebru Timtik’s commitment to justice will live on in the work of her colleagues in the CHD and will continue to inspire our global advocacy for people’s rights.