The press service of the Turkey Tribunal, a civil society-led, symbolic international tribunal established to adjudicate recent human rights violations in Turkey, said on Monday that the Turkish diplomatic mission in Geneva tried to prevent the event from taking place by exerting pressure on the suppliers of the event and threatening economic consequences.
Below is their press release.
Monday 20 September in Geneva was the launch of the independent Turkey Tribunal to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity by the Turkish regime.
Prior to the launch, in a blatant attempt to silence proceedings, the Turkish permanent mission in Geneva used diplomatic pressure upon our suppliers to try to have the event canceled.
The Tribunal is a gathering of globally renowned international judges, legal experts, academics to assess the reports of the rapporteurs and listen to witness statements of the victims of torture and rendition. It will investigate whether the Turkish state is guilty of systematic torture of those deemed to be in opposition to the regime, illegal kidnappings home and abroad, and crimes against humanity. Six independent judges from all over the world will give their judgment and verdict on the evidence presented on Friday 24 September 2021.
In response to the attempts to keep the event from happening, [t]he head of the Turkey Tribunal, Professor Dr. Em. Johan Vande Lanotte, former Belgian Minister of State stated that, “diplomatic pressure on governments in Belgium and Switzerland, intimidation of employees and suppliers and attacks on our website will not stop us” Vande Lanotte continued, “on the contrary. Depending on what the final opinion of the Tribunal will be, we will prepare a complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, with solid cases.”
The Turkish diplomatic Mission in Geneva was presented with copies of the 6 reports and given more than six weeks to respond. The Turkish authorities were also invited to attend the Turkey Tribunal and given time each day to respond to the evidence raised.
Johan Vande Lanotte revealed the pressure that has been brought to silence the event.
“The Belgian government was contacted by the Turkish representatives in Brussels with the urgent request to call me back, as I am Minister of State (which is an honorary title). Obviously, this was not accepted. Here in Geneva, the Turkish Embassy pressured suppliers with economic consequences. The University of Ghent – where I am professor emeritus- was also pressured.“
At the beginning of the Tribunal our website was massively attacked; But we survived.
The Turkey Tribunal operates under the title ‘Because silence is the greatest enemy of fundamental human rights’ and it highlights the environment that pervades in Turkey today.
Vande Lanotte stated, ‘It shows how Turkey fears the truth because that is the only thing the tribunal is about: the truth. We speak up and we ask judges of the highest caliber whose reputations are beyond doubt to analyze what we say, in a trial setting. Who is afraid about that, has a lot to hide.”