Police forces launched raids in seven provinces early this morning against alleged members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), taking into custody at least 85 people, including 15 lawyers.
The lawyers are accused of “transferring instructions from organization leaders in prison to militants,” daily Radikal reported.
Nine of the 15 lawyers are reportedly members of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), including an executive board member of the association, Oya Aslan, and Istanbul branch head Taylan Tanay.
An arrest warrant has been also issued for the head of the association, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, after police failed to locate him during the raid.
Kozağaçlı told the Hürriyet Daily News
over the phone that he was in Beirut and planning to return as soon as possible, but he did not know the exact reason for the raid on the ÇHD offices.
A police search was also conducted at the ÇHD headquarters in Ankara, while 17 people were detained in İzmir on charges of being members of the DHKP/C.
The ÇHD said in a written statement that the raids were “police terror against defense.”
“The state is in an all out attack against people and institutions who oppose the system and struggle for democracy and freedom,” a statement posted on the association’s website read. Anti-democratic legal arrangements and exercises aim to “suppress society and destroy the opposition,” the statement said, adding that the ÇHD would continue its current stance and “defend the right to defense until the end.”
The lawyers taken into custody, most of whom worked for The People’s Legal Aid Bureau, are known for their stance on human rights and torture issues. They have represented the victims in many of the notorious torture and police violence trials of the recent history.
Among the trials the bureau was involved in were the killings of 12 inmates in Bayrampaşa Prison and five inmates in Ümraniye Prison during the “Operation Return to Life” in December 200 to end the hunger strikes at the time; the murder of Engin Çeber in Metris Prison on Oct. 8, 2008 by prison guards; the death of Nigerian citizen Festus Okey who was shot dead while in custody at Beyoğlu police station; and the trial of Berna Yılmaz and Ferhat Tüzer, two university students who were sentenced to eight years and five months in prison for unfurling a banner that read “We want free education, we will get it,” during a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and Roma citizens on March 14, 2010.
ÇHD Istanbul branch head Tanay and Efkan Bolaç, another lawyer taken into custody Jan. 18, were also the founders of the “İmdat Polis” (Help! Police!) hotline to combat police brutality. Bolaç also represents Ahmet Koca, whose beating by seven police officers in central Istanbul last summer was captured by an amateur camera. Koca is facing between one-and-a-half and five years in prison for “resisting a police officer” and “insulting a public official,” following complaints by the seven police officers.
The DHKP/C is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.