Belgian lawyers stage symbolic hunger strike in solidarity with Turkish colleagues Timtik, Ünsal

A group of Belgian lawyers on Aug. 24 gathered in front of the Turkish embassy in Brussels in support of Turkish colleagues Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, Ünsal who have been on a hunger strike since February. Members of Avocats, an association of 8,000 Belgian lawyers, called on the Turkish government to release Timtik and Ünsal, who have been demanding the right to a fair trial.

Duvar English

Agroup of lawyers in Brussels have staged a symbolic hunger strikeoutside the Turkish embassy in support of colleagues Ebru Timtik andAytaç Ünsal's demand for the right to a fair trial.

Membersof the 8,000-strong Avocats organisation said that they were callingon the Turkish government to meet the demands of Timtik and Ünsalwho have been on a hunger strike since February.

“Ten [Belgian] lawyers are currently on a hunger strike. We have decided to support Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal in this way. Ebru and Aytaç are also on a hunger strike since they are being mistreated by the regime. Their trials are not fair and they have been imprisoned with severe accusations; all they want is a fair trial. Their lives are in danger. We would like to warn our own government, NGOs and also the Turkish government,” Lawyer Sibylle Gioe was quoted as saying by Euronews Turkish service.

Avocats chair Xavier Van Gils said that lawyers in Turkey are unable to do their jobs properly and cannot defend people for solely political reasons.

Turkey's Constitutional Court rejects hunger-striking lawyers' demand for releaseTurkey's Constitutional Court rejects hunger-striking lawyers' demand for release

“Ifa state does not accept the existence of the laywers, if there is noindependent judiciary, it means that that state has drifted offcourse and is heading towards authoritianism. We would like to raiseour voices for this; the lawyers in question who are on hunger strikeare at a critical stage [in terms of their health],” Gils said.

Timtikand Ünsal are among a group of 18 lawyers who were convicted inMarch 2019 with a total of 159 years in prison on charges ofmembership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s LiberationParty/Front (DHKP-C). The lawyers and their colleagues have blastedthe charges, saying they lack evidence.

Timtik and Ünsal are on hunger strike since February 2020, with the demand to be tried fairly. On April 5, the Turkish Day of the Lawyer, the two human rights lawyers announced that they would persist in their hunger strike even if it leads to their deaths. They are currently held at two separate Istanbul hospitals without their consent and are refuting all kinds of medical intervention, according to their colleagues.

Death fasting Turkish lawyer urges people to not let authorities force feed himDeath fasting Turkish lawyer urges people to not let authorities force feed him

The Istanbul 37th High Criminal Court in July denied the application for the release of the two lawyers citing the existence of a flight risk and their conviction on terrorism-related charges. The court's decision came despite a medical report saying that Timtik and Ünsal should not remain in jail. The court therefore asked the public prosecutor’s office to refer Timtik and Ünsal to a hospital.

Thecase of Timtik and Ünsal was then taken to the Court of Cassation,which is the last instance for reviewing verdicts given by courts ofcriminal and civil justice, and then to the Constitutional Court.

Earlier in August, the Constitutional rejected the request to release the two lawyers. The top court alleged that there is "no serious danger toward their material or immaterial integrity" in its decision, despite the deteriorating health of the lawyers.