Our work with Eren Keskin and Ayşenur Parildak

Please scroll through entire page for all information on both Eren and Ayşenur

Update on our work with Eren:

The Vigdis Freedom Foundation is currently working with human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, of Turkey, who has been a target in the Turkish government’s efforts to silence any social or political opposition.
Eren has dedicated her life to fighting for the right to freedom of expression in Turkey, as well as dedicating herself as an ally for women survivors of sexual abuse. Eren has been a force for peace and justice in Turkey, which was officially acknowledged in 2004 when she was awarded the Aachen Peace Prize for “her courageous efforts and activities for human rights.”

The Vigdis Foundation will soon launch our fundraising campaign for Eren Keskin. Our campaign will be using the CrowdJustice platform for crowdfunding and will go live this week. The official launch will be announced on Facebook and Twitter. We ask all those who can to please make a contribution and to share the campaign as widely and boldly as possible to stand in solidarity with and support Eren Keskin and human rights in Turkey.

Below is an approved statement from Eren Keskin that we will be using for our campaign. Please feel free to borrow at will from the text to share her story and the critical necessity to help keep her active in her work.

For more information on our work with Eren and Aysenur Parildak, another journalist who is currently in arbitrary detention, please continue scrolling past the text for the campaign.

Thank you for your support and courage to stand with us against Turkish repression of the right to freedom of expression.

Text for campaign:

I am a human rights lawyer. I was a co-editor in chief as a figurehead of the newspaper Özgür Gündem. I have fought all my life for human rights and freedom of expression in Turkey. Since the failed coup last year, I have been considered as an “enemy of the state”. Right now, I’m facing prosecution in 143 cases, mostly related to freedom of expression. Özgür Gündem was a legal nation-wide newspaper that has been shut down. I now spend days in court, defending myself against the 143 charges while also defending my clients, many of whom don’t have the means to pay me. I’m stretched thin and cannot afford to continue this battle, so I need your help.

During the past 20 years I have litigated over five hundred cases against the Turkish government on behalf of women who have been raped or sexually abused in Turkish jails, under custody, and during street demonstrations. I discovered the extent of this abuse in Turkish prisons when I served a six-month sentence in 1995. Since then, I have focused on abuse of power by State officials. My work is supported by the United Nations’ Fund for Victims of Torture. While in prison, Amnesty International supported me as a prisoner of conscience.

I love where I live. I want the Turkish Republic to respect fundamental human rights. I want to make a difference. I want to defend human rights in Turkey, because I want Turkey to be the best it can be. I know this fight is difficult and dangerous, but the people of Turkey need me to stand up for them. Only some of my clients can pay for the services that I provide them. By donating and helping me, you will make it possible for me to continue my work. No donation is too small. Every bit creates hope, which is sometimes the difference between life and death.

Can You Help Support Eren?

Eren’s fight is for justice. For her and for everyone exposed to human rights violation in Turkey.

Amnesty International’s interview with Eren

Take Action! Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign for Eren Keskin

What Else Can You Do?

Please share this page on Facebook using the link on the top right of the page and also to Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram and tell your friends, family, and followers about your generous contribution to this important cause.

You can find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vigdisfreedomfoundation/. #JournalismIsNotACrime #GazetecilikSucDegildir

If you’re not able to make a donation now, you can also send a solidarity card to Eren. Follow the link for more information on how to do so. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/w4r2016_tier_1_case_sheet_turkey_0.pdf

If you would like further information about this case or how to get involved with the Vigdis Freedom Foundation, please contact [email protected]

Together we are strong. Thank you for your support and for helping make this campaign a success.

Our work with Eren:

Members of the Vigdis Freedom Foundation travelled on two occasions to Istanbul to attend hearings in ongoing cases against Eren Keskin for her affiliation and work with Özgür Gündem, a nation-wide newspaper in Turkey that has been shut down after the failed coup.
Eren Keskin has approximately 143 cases against her related to her role as a symbolic co-editor for Özgür Gündem.

On 8 December 2016 there were two hearings in Istanbul; one in the Heavy Penal Court and one in the Simple Penal Court. No decisions were rendered and a new hearing is scheduled for 16 February.
On 29 December 2016 the hearing was held in the Assize Court in Istanbul, and it was a joint hearing with nine other defendants Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, Inan Kizilkaya, Bilir Kaya, Filiz Kocali, Ragip Zarakolu, Bilge Contepe, Bilge Aykut and Kemal Sancil.

Please click to read the trial reports.

8 December 2016

29 December 2016

On the 29 December the tribunal started the hearing of the case against Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, Eren Keskin, Inan Kizilkaya, Bilir Kaya, Filiz Kocali, Ragip Zarakolu, Bilge Contepe, Bilge Aykut and Kemal Sancil. The police only brought Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay from prison; and this was explained by the fact that the police did not have capacity to bring the others.

The courtroom selected for the trial had a maximum capacity of 30 observers, which created an issue as many people –international observers, diplomats, and members of the press—were unable to witness any or all of the trial. However, while most members of the press who came to observe the trial were unable to make it through the security point, Anne Christine, was able to make her way through the large and pushy crowds and into the courtroom where she was able to witness the entirety of the trial.Many lawyers were present in order to show their solidarity with the defendants. There were several protests against the fact that each of the defendants were only allowed to be represented by 3 lawyers.

In the courtroom, Anne Christine witnessed the statements made by Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, and Eren Keskin. During these statements, it was reiterated that these women have been symbolic editors of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, and as such, they should not be personally held responsible for the words written and published in the newspaper. Erdoğan argued that of all the things she has written over the years, she is being accused of being a member of a terrorist organization based on only a few sentences.
The tribunal decided to release from arrest Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay who had been imprisoned since September 2016. The decision in the main case will be rendered when the tribunal have heard.

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Our work with AYŞENUR PARILDAK:

The Vigdis Foundation is working with Aysenur Parildak and her lawyer, İrem Danacıoğlu, on her case against the injustices she has faced in prolonged arbitrary detention due to baseless charges against her.

Earlier this year, Anne Christine attended Aysenur’s trial as an international observer in an effort to make it known that the world is watching how the court is mishandling and treating her case. We are also in contact with Aysenur’s lawyer and working on devising plans to support and assist in any way possible. We have heard from İrem that Aysenur’s mental and physical state are suffering during her prolonged detention. Immediate action is required to release Aysenur from her detention before her personal state worsens.

Below is a letter from Aysenur’s lawyer that describes Aysenur’s situation:

AYŞENUR PARILDAK

Aysenur Parildak is a 27-years-old young female journalist. She is also a successful student studying law at Ankara University Law Department. She has been deprived of her freedom for almost a year (since Aug. 4, last year).

Aysenur Parildak had first been detained and then imprisoned over the conduct of journalism and being active on Twitter. Normally, such activities are seen within the scope of freedom of expression, and media freedom in a democratic country run by the rule of law.

Aysenur Parildak was detained on Aug. 3, 2016, over an anonymous tip over allegations of membership to an armed terrorist organization. After having been subjected to inhumane treatment during detention period, she was arrested and sent to Ankara Sincan Female Prison. For her imprisonment, her tweets and working at the Zaman newspaper were cited. It means, my client was arrested over activities that are regarded normal within the scope of media and freedom of expression in a democratic country governed by rule of law.

Indictment into my client Aysenur Parildak was prepared on Nov. 28, 2016. In the indictment, she faces a criminal charge of membership to an armed terrorist organization (Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/2). The activities cited as evidence in the indictment for committing crime are the same with those activities referred for her detention. Feb. 9 was determined as the date of the first hearing after the acceptance of the indictment. During this period, my client’s objection to imprisonment, her demands for release have been rejected on clumsy reasons.

My client and I told the court that she did not commit a crime such as being a member of an armed terrorist organization, even did not commit any crime; that her activities should be regarded within the line of freedom of expression and media freedom. Despite all our defense, the panel of court judges decided to keep my client Aysenur Parildak’s imprisoned and set May 2 as the next hearing date.

We applied to Constitutional Court on March 27, citing unfair trial and lengthy pretrial detention.
On May 2, 2017, my client Aysenur Parildak was released in a unanimous decision by court judges. My client’s release was criticized by some people on social media and accusations took place against the court judges who released my client. Upon reaction on social media, the office of prosecutor objected against the release of my client. Prosecutor’s objection was accepted by the panel of judges at Ankara 14th High Criminal Court where my client is being tried, and she was again imprisoned. Upon the ruling for re-imprisonment, my client had never been released from prison after the first release decision.

At hearing on July 18, 2017, it was decided for continuity of her pre-trial detention. As a justification, being a ByLock (a smartphone messaging app) user and still being unable to collect evidence (by the prosecution) were cited. Next hearing was set for Oct. 10.

Aysenur Parildak is only one of the thousands of people who are deprived of their freedom due to current political state in Turkey. And she is grateful to all of you for not leaving her alone and helping her during this process. Thank you very much.

With all my respect,

Ayşenur Parıldak

Lawyer İrem Danacıoğlu

PRESS RELEASE, 18 September 2017

The Vigdis Freedom Foundation is proud to announce that its inaugural Shahnoush Award will be given this year to Ayşenur Parildak, a young reporter from the now-closed Zaman newspaper who is among hundreds of journalists and writers jailed after the July 2016 failed military coup attempt in Turkey.

Parıldak was arrested on Aug. 11, 2016. She had been covering court stories for Zaman and was also a student at the law faculty of Ankara University. In a letter from prison, she wrote:

“I was subjected to violence and sexual abuse. I was interrogated day and night for eight days. They [police officers] were questioning me while they were under the influence of alcohol […] I am afraid of being forgotten here.”

The Shahnoush Award will be given every year to a female prisoner of conscience whose courage has not been internationally acknowledged. By doing so, Vigdis brings attention to the suffering of women who languish behind bars for speaking out and whose human rights have been violated. They are not forgotten; they are not alone. Hope is sometimes the difference between life and death. May the Shanoush Award give hope to those who need it most.

This award bears the name of Shahnoush Behzadi, a fifteen-year-old girl who was executed in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, in the fall of 1981, only weeks after her arrest. Shahnoush had been a friend and classmate of author, human-rights advocate, and member of the Board of Directors at the Vigdis Freedom Foundation, Marina Nemat. Shahnoush was a kind young woman who was loved by her classmates and wanted to make the world a better place. She is buried in a mass grave in Iran.

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