Ankara Bar Association members continue to resign in protest of refusal to release torture report

Resignations continue in the Ankara Bar Association as the organization continues to refuse to release a report detailing how Gülenists were tortured in police custody. Lawyers calling for the report to be released have stepped down in droves. Now, the head of the Bar's Human Rights Center, Rıza Türmen, has also resigned.

Duvar English

Lawyers continue to resign from the Ankara Bar Association over the organization’s refusal to release a report detailing the torture of Gülenists in police custody. Head of the Bar’s Human Rights Center, Rıza Türmen, resigned as did several members of his staff.

The controversy within the Ankara Bar began last week when four members of the Human Rights Center stepped down when they learned that the organization would not release a report they prepared on torture experienced by those held in police custody for allegedly being part of the organization linked to exiled preacher Fetullah Gülen.

The Gülen network, referred to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) by the Turkish government, is widely believed to have undertaken the failed coup attempt of July 2016. Those affiliated with the group are referred to as Gülenists. 

Ankara Bar Association Human Rights Center Vice Presidents Gizay Dulkadir and Sercan Aran, along with Ankara Bar Association Council members Deniz Can Aydın and Nadire Nurdoğan, resigned after their report was censored. They said that the report was not published for over ten days at the point of their resignation and that victims’ statements had been redacted or censored by the bar. 

Nurdoğan said in a social media statement upon her resignation last week that the Ankara Bar Association is no longer meaningfully engaged in the struggle for Human Rights and that the censorship of this report demonstrates that. She said they wanted to publish the report to stop the torture and maltreatment of detainees.

She said she resigned because she no longer could square her work for human rights with the actions of the organization.

Dulkadir emphasized this fact in her resignation on social media.

“We have personally witnessed that the administration of the Ankara Bar Association completely broke away from the struggle for rights,” she wrote. 

Now, the head of the Human Rights Center, Rıza Türmen, has also resigned. This comes nearly a week after the first round of resignations, as the Ankara Bar still refuses to release the report. This brings the total number of resignations to seven - six in the first round and now the head of the group.

The Bar Association says that rather than release the findings from interviews with allegedly tortured detainees to the public, they would instigate a criminal investigation. The lawyers who resigned said this was insufficient and represented the organizations’ drifting from the struggle for human rights.