More than 11,000 people have signed a petition in support of lawyers Aytaç Ünsal and Ebru Timtik, who are currently behind bars and on a hunger strike, the Istanbul Bar Association announced at a press conference on Friday.
Ünsal and Timtik are currently on a ‘death fast’, meaning they intend to starve themselves to death unless their demands are met. The two are among a group of 18 lawyers who were convicted earlier this year with a total of 159 years in prison on charges of membership in an illegal organization. The lawyers and their colleagues have blasted the charges saying they lack evidence and are calling for a fair trial.
While Timtik is behind bars in Istanbul’s Silvri prison, where she has been on strike for 154 days, Ünsal has been striking for 133 days at the Burhaniye prison in the province of Balıkesir. Timtik and Ünsal received sentences of 13 years and 10 years respectively.
On Thursday, the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) announced that more than 300 lawyers, including those from countries including the UK, France, Spain and Japan, signed a petition that was going to be delivered to Turkey’s Supreme Court on behalf of the jailed lawyers.
The lawyers were branded members of the banned leftist militant Revolution People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). Earlier this year, Helin Bölek and İbrahim Gökçek from the leftist folk group Grup Yorum both died after an extended death fast where the musicians, who have faced the same charges, were protesting the government’s ban of the group’s concerts.
“Ebru and Aytaç’s health situations are getting worse by the day. We are reminded that the prison conditions are particularly grim when coupled with the pandemic conditions. We will continue to make the demands of our lawyer colleagues and raise their voices. Let’s unite our forces and make sure that Aytaç and Ebru live,” said Ümit Biçer from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.