Norwegian lawyers call for immediate release of jailed Turkish colleagues

Norwegian lawyers have demonstrated in their robes in front of the Turkish Embassy in Oslo to show their solidarity and support for their jailed Turkish colleagues from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD).

Duvar English

A group of Norwegian lawyers on Nov. 16 staged a demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy building in Oslo in protest of the imprisonment of their colleagues from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) in Turkey, daily Evrensel reported.

The Norwegian lawyers have demanded that the Turkish authorities release the ÇHD lawyers. Among the protestors were representatives of the Norwegian Association of Judges, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Norwegian Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty and PEN Norway.

Lawyer Else Leona McClimans, the head of the Norwegian Bar Association's Human Rights Committee, held a speech here, calling on the Norwegian government to pressure Turkey to release “all lawyers who have been jailed while conducting their professions or using their freedom of speech.”

McClimans said that although Norwegian lawyers do not normally put on their robes during protests, they have “made an exception” in this protest since it is an “important case.”

The Advokatbladet magazine of the Norway Bar Association wrote about the imprisonment of lawyers in Turkey, saying: “Following the coup attempt against President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan in 2016, more than 1,600 lawyers have been arrested, and 450 lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 2,786 years in jail.”

The magazine also wrote that the Norwegian Bar Association had demanded a meeting from the Turkish Ambassador to Norway Fazlı Çorman ahead of the protest but that the ambassador had not accepted this request, instead saying “There is no arrested lawyer in Turkey.”

Like numerous other trials in Turkey, the long-lasting ÇHD trial raises serious concern with respect to the degree of violation of defense rights.

The victims of this long-lasting trial are the imprisoned 22 lawyers, all members of the ÇHD and all working in one of the two offices of the People’s Law Office. 

One of the lawyers accused in the trial, Ebru Timtik, paid with her life for her struggle for fair trials. She went on a hunger strike. The court refused to release her temporarily from detention in order to recover from the consequences of the hunger strike. Her colleague Aytaç Ünsal, who also went on hunger strike, only survived because the Court of Cassation ruled for his release last year, amid protests following the death of Ebru Timtik.