The Arrested Lawyers Initiative, an advocacy group defending lawyers’ rights, said in a recent statement that 450 lawyers in Turkey have been sentenced to 2,786 years in total on trumped-up charges of terrorism since a coup attempt in July 2016.
The statement, released Monday on the occasion of October 25, European Lawyers Day, also said more than 1,600 lawyers had been arrested and prosecuted while 615 had been remanded to pre-trial detention in the same period.
“In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained and arrested on trumped-up charges as part of criminal investigations orchestrated by the political authorities and conducted by provincial public prosecutors,” they said, noting that 450 attorneys were sentenced to 2,786 years in total on charges that include “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “spreading terrorist propaganda.”
According to the statement, 15 of the lawyers who were detained or arrested after the 2016 coup were current or former presidents of provincial bar associations and some lawyers under arrest were subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
“The Turkish government has also targeted Turkish lawyers’ right to free association,” the report said, adding that 34 lawyers’ societies or associations have been shut down since the declaration of a state of emergency days after the attempted coup, with all their assets confiscated.
The group stated in conclusion that they would be “most grateful” if arrested Turkish lawyers are remembered and that people speak up against the ongoing persecution of Turkish lawyers on the occasion of European Lawyers Day.
In the latest incident of operations targeting lawyers in Turkey, the police on Tuesday detained 10 as part of an operation carried out in İstanbul, Ankara, Adana, Van, Diyarbakır, Antalya and Denizli provinces and targeted members of the Gülen movement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement, a faith-based group that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue that is inspired by the teachings of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.