Lawyer Aytaç Ünsal was released on the 213th day of his hunger strike calling for a fair trial, one week after Ebru Timtik lost her life. Ünsal's sentence was part of a mass operation against 18 lawyers, who were sentenced to over 150 years in prison overall.
The European Union has said that it's "deeply saddened" by the death of Ebru Timtik, a lawyer who had been on a death fast for 238 days with the demand to be tried fairly. "Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms," read a statement released by European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano.
Police on Aug. 28 fired tear gas on mourners who were waiting in front of the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute to take the body of Ebru Timtik, who lost her life on the 238th day of her death fast with a demand to a fair trial. Following the funeral ceremony at the Gazi Cemevi, the police officers again did not allow Timtik's relatives to carry the coffin, and instead took it themselves on an armored vehicle to the cemetery. Those who protested this again faced police violence.
Lawyer Ebru Timtik lost her life after a failure of her heart on the 238th day of her death fast. Along with lawyer Aytaç Ünsal, Titmtik was on a hunger strike since February for the right to a fair trial. She was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison in 2019. Following Timtik's death, several intellects, politicians and bar association heads have criticized the Turkish government for neglecting the outcries of the public with regards to the case of the two lawyers.
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.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has turned down a request for the release of human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on hunger strike since February 2020 to strengthen their demand for fair trials and the administration of justice in the country. 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.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Death fasting lawyer Aytaç Ünsal called on the people to not let the doctors force feed him and another death fasting lawyer, Ebru Timtik. In a message he sent via his wife, Ünsal said that the doctors will "circle around them like vultures" and intervene medically without their consent if they lose their consciousness.
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 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.
Death fasting musician İbrahim Gökçek's father Ahmet Gökçek said that his son wants to live and urged people to raise their voices to save him. "İbrahim has been on a death fast for 315 days. His situation is critical. He is mentally very strong and has been resisting. He can also follow the current events and can talk to us. He was deeply shook when his friends died, but continues his struggle with resistance," he said.