İHD Adana branch chair probed over Armenian Genocide statement

The Human Rights Association's (İHD) Adana branch chair Yakup Ataş is facing an investigation over a statement he released on April 24, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. Turkish prosecutors are accusing Ataş of “instigating hatred and hostility among the public.”

Duvar English

The chief public prosecutor's office of the southern province of Adana has launched an investigation into Yakup Ataş, the provincial branch chair of the Human Rights Association (İHD), over his remarks about the Armenian Genocide.

Ataş, who is also a lawyer, is accused of “instigating hatred and hostility among the public” through remarks which he made on April 24 at the association's Adana branch, Mezopotamya news agency reported on Sept. 16.

Ataş gave his testimony to the prosecutors at the Adana Courthouse on Sept. 15.

In his testimony, he denied the accusations, saying he had merely revealed “his personal opinion.” “As per the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR], my statements are within my right to freedom of speech. I do not accept the charges I am accused of,” he said.

Ataş said that the investigation against him had the purpose of “intimidating” human rights activists and it was launched after Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's targeting of the İHD in a tweet on April 24.

The İHD and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) released separate statements on April 24 on the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, calling on the Turkish state to formally recognize the atrocity.

On the same day, Soylu claimed that the İHD and HDP's statements meant that they “were together in their opposition against the nation.” Sharing screenshots of these statements on his Twitter account, Soylu wrote: “We wanted to a make a note of this in the history.”

Ataş recalled Soylu's tweet in his testimony, saying: “I believe that this investigation has been launched due to the reason that this tweet has a purpose of intimidating human rights activists. The launch of this investigation means a launch into the freedom of thought and expression.”