Turkish police on Thursday raided the Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır branch, detaining board member Ferhat Berkpınar, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Duvar news website.
The raid took place after the Adıyaman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Berkpınar, whose home was also raided. The charges against Berkpınar have not yet been disclosed.
The raid sparked outrage among İHD members and human rights activists. Abdullah Zeytun from the İHD said the association’s door had been broken down during the raid and that the police had confiscated many documents. “The police have not even prepared an official report on what they seized. This is completely unlawful!” he said. “They also seized documents that had nothing to do with Berkpınar.”
Nahit Eren, chair of İHD Diyarbakır branch, said the association was not Berkpınar’s private office and therefore its raid was illegal. “The warrant said Berkpınar’s home and office were to be searched, but the IHD is an association and its chair should have been notified before it was raided,” he added. “The breaking down of the door was also excessive.”
Murat Aba from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) said the raid was a manifestation of how authorities were trying to pressure human rights activists into silence but added that they would not accept such antidemocratic measures.
Established in 1986 the İHD is one of the oldest human rights monitoring associations in Turkey. However, political pressure on the organization has been increasing.
Authorities took legal action against the İHD and its chair, Öztürk Türkdoğan, in three separate cases in January.
The İHD said the association was accused of insulting Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and recognizing the Armenian genocide, while Türkdoğan was accused of membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Türkdoğan is currently under judicial supervision. He is prohibited from traveling abroad and must check in at a police station twice a month.