Today (28 August), lawyer Ebru Timtik died after 238 days of hunger strike. Timtuk was one of eighteen lawyers accused of being part of a terrorist organization, under Turkey’s sweeping anti-terrorism laws.
Following the convictions last year Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Turkey, who observed the trial hearing, said: “Today’s convictions are a travesty of justice and demonstrate yet again the inability of courts crippled under political pressure to deliver a fair trial.
“After more than a year in pre-trial detention for six of the lawyers, and three measly hearings marred by fair trial breaches, this politically motivated prosecution has reached it preposterous conclusion. These lawyers should be immediately and unconditionally released and the conviction quashed.”
Timtik was sentenced to 13 years 6 months in prison last March for "terrorism-related" offences. Eighteen other lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers' Association (ÇHD), were sentenced to a total of 159 years in prison.
The appeals court, which upheld the lawyers' sentences in October 2019, was revealed to give the verdict without reviewing lawyers' appeal. Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal started hunger strikes on 2 January and 2 February, respectively. Ünsal, is continuing his fast and was also forcibly hospitalized on 30 July.
EU Reporter asked the European Commission to comment on Timtik’s death:
The Commission also issued a statement calling for urgent reforms: “Ebru Timtik’s hunger strike for a fair trial and its tragic outcome painfully illustrate the urgent need for the Turkish authorities to credibly address the human rights situation and serious shortcomings observed in the Turkish judiciary.
“A strong and independent legal profession, along with an independent judiciary, is a core principle of a fair justice system that upholds the rule of law and allows for the effective protection of human rights.
“The EU repeated on a number of occasions and we would like to recall also today that Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, which are cornerstones of EU-Turkey relations.”
The death of Timtik takes place against a backdrop of increasing tensions between the EU and Turkey. EU foreign ministers meeting in Berlin today will discuss possible sanctions for Turkey, and are urging dialogue to prevent a further escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
— People's Law Office - International (@PLO_int) August 28, 2020
According to a survey by NGO, Arrested Lawyers, there is a steady increase in the use of anti-terrorism law on individuals by public prosecutors. In the last seven years, Turkish public prosecutors have filed more than 392,000 charges under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. 220,000 individuals have been sentenced for membership of an armed terrorist organization between 2016-19.
EU imposes sanctions on Russians linked to Navalny poisoning and detention
The Council today(2 March) decided to impose restrictive measures on four Russian individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as widespread and systematic repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.
Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the Prosecutor-General, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service have been listed over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.
This is the first time that the EU imposes sanctions in the framework of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime which was established on 7 December 2020. The sanctions regime enables the EU to target those responsible for acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses such as torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions.
The restrictive measures that entered into force today in follow up to discussions by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 February 2021 consist of a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, persons and entities in the EU are forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
- Official Journal of the EU: Council Decision and Implementing Regulation concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses (including list of sanctioned individuals)
- Foreign Affairs Council, 22 February 2021
- Russia: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the arrest of Alexei Navalny upon his return, 18 January 2021
- EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime, 7 December 2020 press release
Nine EU-supported films compete in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival
The 71st Berlin International Film Festival began on 1 March, this year in its digital edition due to the coronavirus pandemicnine EU-supported films and series, three of which are competing for the highest prize, the Golden Bear: Memory Box by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Nebenan (Next Door) by Daniel Brühl, and Természetes fény (Natural Light) by Dénes Nagy. The EU supported the development and co-production of these nine titles with an investment of over €750 000 that was awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Targeted to film professionals and media, the Berlinale film festival is hosting the European Film Market, where the Creative Europe MEDIA programme is active with a virtual stand as well as with the European Film Forum. The Forum that will take place online on 2 March will gather various professionals from the industry to discuss the future perspectives for the audiovisual sector in Europe. The Berlinale will run until 5 March, when the winning films will be announced. The second round of this year's festival, ‘The Summer Special', will take place in June 2021 and will open the films to the public and host the official Award Ceremony. More information is available here.
Yemen: €95 million in EU humanitarian aid for people threatened by conflict and famine
The European Commission is allocating €95 million in humanitarian support to address the most pressing needs of people in Yemen amid record highs of child malnutrition, an imminent threat of famine and renewed fighting. More than 2 million children as well as over 1 million pregnant women and mothers are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, while escalating hostilities are forcing thousands of families to leave their households.
The new funding was announced by the Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, at the high-level pledging event for Yemen on 1 March co-hosted by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland. Commissioner Lenarčič said: "The EU does not forget the dire situation of people in Yemen who are once again on the brink of famine after bearing the brunt of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. New EU funding will be essential in maintaining life-saving aid for millions of people, exhausted after a disastrous year marked by fighting, COVID-19 and further economic collapse. Parties to the conflict need to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to those most in need and avoid further civilian suffering. Now more than ever it is crucial that International Humanitarian Law and unrestricted access to those in need are upheld.”
In 2021, EU humanitarian aid will continue to provide food, nutrition and healthcare, financial assistance, water and sanitation, education and other lifesaving support to the conflict-displaced and those in severe need. The press release is available online.
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