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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 192nd session
(Quito, 27 March 2013)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of the above-mentioned Turkish parliamentarians, elected in the June 2011 parliamentary elections, and to the resolution it adopted at its 191st session (October 2012),

Taking into account the letter of 18 March 2013 from the President of the Turkish IPU Group,

Recalling that Mr. Balbay and Mr. Haberal were elected on the list of the Republican People’s Party, Mr. Alan on the list of the National Action Party and the six others as members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, that the persons in question were all certified by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) while in detention as eligible candidates for the legislative elections, and that, once elected, their petitions for release to enable them to take up their parliamentary duties were rejected by the competent courts,

Considering the following information on file on their individual situations:

  • Regarding Mr. Balbay:
    • Mr. Balbay was reportedly arrested at the beginning of 2009 and is being prosecuted on charges of being a member of an organization, Ergenekon, conspiring to destabilize and overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party. The source affirms that he was the Ankara correspondent for Cumhuriyet, a long-running daily in Turkey, that he was a well-known critic of the government, and that he had been briefly detained in July 2008. Although he stopped working at the newspaper, the source affirms that he continued to criticize the government and was again arrested in 2009 on the grounds that the police had recovered previously deleted data in the computer seized during his first arrest. According to the source, the information obtained is nothing more than journalistic notes, which Mr. Balbay had already published in his books.

  • Regarding Mr. Haberal:
    • Mr. Haberal was reportedly arrested around the same time as Mr. Balbay and faces the same charges. According to the source, Mr. Haberal is a physician and is well-known for his social work. It affirms that the prosecutor accuses him of using his meetings to discuss plans to overthrow the government. According to the source, these meetings were no more than brain-storming exercises attended by politicians, including two MPs from the governing party, and civil servants. 

  • Regarding Mr. Alan:
    • Mr. Alan was prosecuted as part of the “Sledgehammer case”, which is the name of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan reportedly dating back to 2003. A judgement was handed down in this case on 21 September 2012. Mr. Alan was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of 18 years. 

  • Regarding Ms. Yildirim, Mr. Ayhan, Mr. Aktas, Ms. Irmak and Mr. Sariyildiz:
    • The five independent parliamentarians are all being prosecuted for crimes against the constitutional order, in particular membership of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), said to be the urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). They were reportedly arrested between December 2009 and April 2010, with the exception of Mr. Ayhan, who was arrested in October 2010.

  • Regarding Mr. Dicle:
    • Mr. Dicle has been in detention since December 2009 in relation to the KCK case.

    • He was convicted and sentenced in 2009 at first instance to a prison sentence of one year and eight months, pursuant to Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, in connection with a statement he made to the ANKA news agency in October 2007 with respect to the unilateral ceasefire declared by the PKK in 2006 and to the subsequent reportedly intensified attacks by the army. Mr. Dicle reportedly stated, “… this ceasefire has become invalid. The PKK will use its legitimate right of defence unless the army stops the operations.”

    • The Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the judgement on 22 March 2011. After registering the criminal record, the ruling was submitted to the YSK on 9 June 2011. The President of the Turkish IPU Group affirms that, at that point, under the Electoral Law, the YSK was no longer in a position to make any changes to the final list of candidates for the elections, which explains why it was possible for Mr. Dicle to stand but his election subsequently invalidated.

    • Mr. Dicle, whose seat has been attributed to a member of the ruling party, has submitted a petition to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated,
Recalling that the sources raised serious questions with respect to all nine cases about the length of the proceedings, which appeared not to be advancing and in which many of the accused had not yet been able to present their defence, and affirmed that no concrete facts had been presented to justify the preventive detention decisions,

Also recalling that the sources affirmed that some of the evidence against the accused has been fabricated by the investigators, that most of the accused had been detained on the basis of unsigned anonymous letters and that the computers of the accused had been tampered with; further recalling that the sources also affirmed that all the accused were known to be in opposition to the present government, that the government fully controlled the Supreme Board for Judges and Prosecutors in charge of the judicial system, and that there had been direct political interference in the cases,

Considering the extensive information on the ongoing judicial cases provided by the President of the Turkish IPU Group during a hearing with the Committee at the 127th IPU Assembly (Quebec, October 2012) and in the letter dated 18 March 2013, including the following:

  • The Ergenekon and Sledgehammercases have to be seen against the background of repeated interference, including coups d’état, by the military in national politics in the recent history of Turkey; the parliamentarians concerned were/are accused as part of extremely complex criminal cases concerning multiple suspects;

  • The parliamentary human rights committee has visited the parliamentarians in detention, concluded that their conditions are appropriate, and adopted a report to this effect which can be made available;

  • As part of its third judicial reform package, the Turkish parliament recently amended the criminal code of procedure with a view to expediting legal proceedings and facilitating the release of those standing accused in cases such as the ones at hand; however, the courts have refused to grant the parliamentarians provisional release on the grounds that the crimes of which they are accused are very serious and their release may jeopardize the collection of evidence,

Recalling that, in the resolution it adopted during the 127th IPU Assembly (Quebec, October 2012), it was pleased to note that the President of the Turkish IPU Group agreed that an on-site mission by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which would meet with the parliamentary, executive and judicial authorities and the parliamentarians concerned, would be timely and help enhance understanding of the cases, including with regard to the particularly complex context in which they had to be seen,

Considering in this respectthatthe President of the Turkish IPU Group indicated the following in the letter of 18 March 2013:

“As Turkish Delegation to the IPU, we are glad the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has an intention of visiting Turkey. In this respect, we began to make the necessary arrangements for you to meet with the institutions you mentioned in your letter in order to ensure your visit goes effectively. As you know, the judiciary process of the detained parliamentarians still continues and the public prosecutor is in the process of giving his consideration. Hence the case is yet to be in the stage of judgment. For this reason a probability of your visit influencing the judiciary cannot be disregarded. Besides, nowadays, the agenda of Grand National Assembly of Turkey is mainly occupied with the new constitution debates. Therefore we are concerned that the purposes of your visit may not be reached due to busy agenda of the Assembly during the time period of your planned visit. Considering the mentioned points above, we have reached a conclusion that it would be better to reconsider your visit in the future time. However, as Turkish Delegation to the IPU, we have determined to provide all the information you demand and be helpful through the process of your studies (…) we would again like to express our contentment to cooperate with you and we also appreciate your understanding”,
Fully acknowledging the essential role of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in the ongoing constitutional reform process and in ensuring that the fourth judicial package recently submitted by the Government effectively addresses all outstanding critical legal issues raised by the European Court of Human Rights,

Taking note of the statement made by Mr. Abdullah Öcalan on 21 March 2013 to the effect that “a new era is beginning. The period of armed struggle is ending and the door is opening to democratic politics. We are beginning a process focused on political, social and economic aspects; an understanding based on democratic rights, freedoms and equality is growing” and that “our common past is a reality that requires to create a common future. Today the spirit that established the Turkish Grand Assembly leads the way to the new era”,

Bearing in mind that Turkey is party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is therefore bound to respect the right to freedom of expression, the right to liberty and the right to participate in political life,

  1. Thanks the President of the Turkish IPU Group for her cooperation; reaffirms its satisfaction that the Grand National Assembly has taken an active interest in the cases under examination and appreciates the extensive additional information provided on 18 March 2013;

  2. Understands that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey has a busy schedule owing to its critical involvement in the ongoing process of constitutional and legal reform;

  3. Sincerely believes that, given Turkey’s ambitious reform efforts, the Committee’s mission would be all the more timely in that it would help enhance understanding of the cases, including with regard to the political and historical context in which the different criminal proceedings in these cases have to be seen;

  4. Wishes to assure the authorities that the Committee fully respects the independence of the judiciary at all times, does not intend to influence ongoing judicial proceedings in any way and is committed to exercising particular caution during its mission in response to the concerns expressed in this respect;

  5. Notes with particular appreciation that steps were taken to arrange for the mission to meet with the relevant authorities on the proposed dates of 27 to 31 May 2013; fully understands that the parliamentary authorities would prefer to postpone the mission and that it may be difficult for some authorities to accommodate meetings with the mission on these dates owing to their current workload; sincerely hopes that the mission will nevertheless be able to take place on the suggested dates and to benefit from the assistance of all relevant authorities;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to seek urgent confirmation of the above agreed mission dates with the parliamentary authorities, taking into account all the above-mentioned considerations; requests him also to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities and the sources; 

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining these cases and to report back to it in due course.
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