The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has called on the immediate release of Şeyhmus Gökalp, a Turkish doctor who was arrested last month.
The rights group -- a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) -- urged the Turkish authorities to “put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders” in the country.
Gökalp was among 75 individuals who were detained on Nov. 20 as part of an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
On Nov. 23, while 70 people were released on probation, the court confirmed the detention of five people, including Gökalp, on the allegations of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
The justification of the court's decision was the existence of a “strong suspicion of a crime,” in connection with Dr. Gökalp’s alleged provision of healthcare for members of a terrorist organization in a hospital during a period he did not work in those premises, as well as with his alleged participation in a meeting considered illegal by public authorities.
Gökalp is a former member of Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) Executive Board and former Board Member of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır Branch.
The Observatory listed its demands in a letter addressing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as well as Turkey's ambassadors to the UN and the EU.
“Refrain from the practice of abusing anti-terrorism legislation for silencing dissent and crackdown on human rights activities...Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey,” read the Observatory's letter.
The Observatory said it firmly condemns the “arbitrary detention and judicial harassment” of Dr. Gökalp and that this is not the first time that TTB members and Dr. Gökalp are being targeted.