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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 193rd session
(Geneva, 9 October 2013)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of the above-mentioned Turkish parliamentarians, who were elected in the June 2011 parliamentary elections, and to the resolution it adopted at its 192nd session (March 2013),

Taking into account the letter of 15 May 2013 from the President of the Turkish IPU Group and the information provided by the Turkish delegation to the 129th IPU Assembly (Geneva, October 2013) at a hearing with the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians,

Recalling that Mr. Balbay and Mr. Haberal were elected on the Republican People’s Party list, Mr. Alan on the National Action Party list and the six others as members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, that all nine were certified by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) while in prison as eligible to stand in 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,

Noting the following information on file on their individual situations:

  • Mr. Balbay

    Balbay was arrested on 6 March 2009 and prosecuted on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization, Ergenekon, and 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 Turkish daily, that he was a well-known critic of the government, and that he had been briefly detained in July 2008. The source affirms that, although he stopped working at the newspaper, Mr. Balbay 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 merely journalistic notes that Mr. Balbay had already published in his books.

  • Mr. Haberal

    Mr. Haberal was arrested on 17 April 2009 and prosecuted for being a member and leader of the terrorist organization Ergenekon. According to the source, Mr. Haberal, a physician who is well-known for his social work, was accused by the prosecutor of using his meetings to discuss plans to overthrow the government. According to the source, these meetings were merely brain-storming exercises attended by politicians, including two members of parliament from the governing party, and civil servants. 

  • 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.

  • Ms. Yildirim, Mr. Ayhan, Mr. Aktas, Ms. Irmak and Mr. Sariyildiz

    The five parliamentarians are all being prosecuted for crimes against the constitutional order, specifically for being members of the terrorist organization Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), said to be the urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). They were arrested between April 2009 and October 2010.

  • Mr. Dicle

    Mr. Dicle has been in custody since December 2009 on charges of membership in the KCK. 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 subsequent reports of 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 Supreme Election Board (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 for his election to be 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 the serious concerns raised by the sources with respect to all nine cases about the length of the proceedings, the length of pre-trial detention, the lack of evidence to support the judicial decisions to keep elected members of parliament in pre-trial detention, serious violations of the rights of the defence and other procedural flaws;  further recalling the sources’ affirmation that some of the evidence against the accused had been fabricated by the investigators, that most of the accused had been detained on the basis of unsigned anonymous letters and their computers tampered with, that the prosecution had relied largely on the testimony of secret witnesses during the trial, 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, which was in charge of the judicial system, and that there had been direct political interference in the cases,

Noting the extensive background information on the Sledgehammer, Ergenekon and KCK trials 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 a 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/have been indicted in extremely complex criminal cases concerning multiple suspects;

  • The parliamentary human rights committee has visited the parliamentarians in prison, 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 Grand National Assembly of Turkey recently amended the criminal code of procedure with a view to expediting legal proceedings and facilitating the release of those 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,
Considering that the Turkish delegation to the 129th IPU Assembly (October 2013) provided the following new information on the cases:
  • In the Sledgehammer trial, the Court of Cassation is expected to deliver its ruling on the appeal in the coming days;

  • In the Ergenekon trial, the decisions handed down on 5 August 2013 included a sentence of 34 years and 8 months for Mr.  Balbay and 12 years and six months for Mr. Haberal; Mr. Haberal was released for time served and was subsequently sworn in as a member of parliament on 2 September 2013; the judicial decision is still in the process of being drafted;

  • The KCK proceedings continue; a hearing took place on 16 September in the case of Ms. Irmak and hearings are scheduled on 8 October 2013 for Ms. Yildirim, 12 November 2013 for Mr. Sariyildiz and 14 November 2013 for Mr. Ayhan,
Considering that the Turkish delegation further stated that all the proceedings were extremely complex and involved a large number of defendants and events that took place over a significant period of time, that the judiciary did its utmost to respect all standards of due process and conducted the proceedings in a transparent manner, but that the proceedings may have been marred by a number of minor procedural flaws owing to the complexity of the cases,

Recalling that, in the resolution it adopted during the 127th IPU Assembly (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,

Noting in this respectthatthe Committee made three attempts in 2013 to conduct the agreed visit to Turkey but that the dates were not accepted by the Turkish authorities for reasons pertaining to the workload of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and concerns that a visit might influence the ongoing judicial processes,

Considering that the Committee has written to the President of the Turkish IPU Group, stating that it finds the justification for the repeated postponements difficult to understand, especially since other international delegations have been permitted to travel to Turkey for very similar purposes during this time, reminding the authorities that the members of the Committee are aware that this is a delicate period for Turkey and that the mission covers sensitive issues, and assuring them that the delegation in no way intends to interfere with the ongoing legal proceedings but has only one purpose, and that is to obtain a better understanding of the criminal proceedings,

Taking into account that, at the hearing, the President of the Turkish IPU Group reaffirmed that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was in favour of the mission and said that, while the previous parliamentary session had been extremely busy, the Assembly now expects to be able to arrange the mission,

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;

  2. Expresses its deep disappointment that the Committee has not yet been able to conduct the on-site mission to Turkey and trusts that the Turkish authorities will do their utmost to ensure that the mission can take place as soon as the Committee delegation is available;

  3. Notes the sentences delivered against Mr. Haberal and Mr. Balbay in the Ergenekon trial on 5 August 2013; notes with interest that Mr. Haberal was released for time served in pre-trial detention and was sworn in as a member of parliament on 2 October 2013; wishes to receive the relevant excerpts of the judicial decision so as to obtain a full understanding of the reasons for the conviction;

  4. Remains deeply concerned about the sources’ allegations that some of the evidence against Mr. Haberal and Mr. Balbay was fabricated and that the rights of the accused were not fully respected during the trial; reiterates its concern regarding the continued proceedings against six other members of parliament who remain in custody and continue to be prevented from exercising the mandate entrusted to them by their constituents; wishes to receive detailed information on the current status of these proceedings;

  5. Observes that all nine members of parliament are being prosecuted on charges of being members of terrorist organizations; wishes to receive detailed information on the facts adduced to substantiate these charges in relation to each individual member, the evidence supporting the charges and the applicable legal provisions;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities and the sources and to make new arrangements for an on-site visit to Turkey by a Committee delegation; 

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining these cases.
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