Information Note By The Ministry Of Justice Of The Republic Of Turkey In Reply To The Statement By The Commissioner For Human Rights Of The Council Of Europe On 26 July 2016 , 18.08.2016
We would like to express our regret about the statement of Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Mr Nils Muižnieks on 26 July 2016. When we examined the general framework and the details of the statement, we understood that disinformation regarding the incidents of 15 July in our country has also influenced international actors. For this reason, we consider it useful to share some information about the incidents that took place during the armed coup attempt and subsequent developments.
2- The night of 15 July the Republic of Turkey faced an armed coup attempt
The night of 15 July “terrorists in uniforms” within the Turkish Armed Forces attempted an armed coup against democracy to overthrow the elected president, the Parliament and the Government by suspending the Constitution. The Presidential Complex, the hotel where the President was staying, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the Police Special Operations Centre and police units, the campus of the National Intelligence Organisation and various military units were attacked with bombs and arms. The Bosporus Bridge connecting Asia and Europe was blocked by tanks used by terrorists.
The President managed to survive the assassination attempt by leaving the hotel only 15 minutes before it was raided.
The Turkish National Assembly, which reflects the will of the nation, was bombed for the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey. The attack was carried out when the General Assembly was in session. During the attack, the National Assembly officials and many police officers were injured, and the National Assembly building was severely damaged.
The night of 15 July, tanks were driven towards people, and some of them died as a result of being run over by tanks, fighter aircrafts made low altitude flights over the cities by breaking the sound barrier, people were shot indiscriminately with real bullets, snipers targeted people from strategic points and the crowd was bombed and shelled by aircrafts.
The terrorists seized the state-run television and forced a newsreader to read “a coup declaration”
. Private media organisations were raided, and the media, which is the source of news for public, was forced to act with a single-voice. The coup plotters also attacked the satellite control station and attempted to cut off the Internet and all television broadcastings, except for the state-run TV channel TRT. However, the coup plotters’ attempts to bring the media under control did not last long. The Turkish media played an important role in suppressing the coup attempt. In particular, it was one of the milestones of the critical night that private televisions broadcasted the President’s call for people to resist.
In the course of the coup attempt, 238 persons, including some of the President’s very close work fellows, were killed and more than 2500 people were injured.
Upon the call of the President, the Turkish people defended, unarmed and with only their flags, democratic values and the will of the nation against guns, rifles and aircrafts. The armed coup attempt was suppressed in the first place by the Turkish people and by our President, Prime Minister, Government, members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, political parties, media and non-governmental organisations, police officers and other soldiers in the army who were against the coup by resisting bravely the coup plotters and defending democratic order.
At that night, the Turkish nation was united around democratic values irrespective of political parties they support or their worldviews and resisted the coup attempt altogether. The Turkish people were aware that the coup attempt was not solely against the ruling party. For this reason, supporters of opposition parties gave their full support in this matter. The will of the nation to protect democracy continues. In city centres all around Turkey, people from every segment of life are still on Democracy Watch. Since 15 July, democracy built on the Turkish nation’s blood has become a value from which no step can be taken back.
3. The armed coup attempt was carried out by FETO
The coup attempt of 15 July was carried out by members of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation (FETO) who had infiltrated into the Turkish Armed Forces and were wearing military uniforms as well as other military officers acting together with FETO members in accordance with Fethullah Gülen’s orders and instructions. This has become evident thanks to the evidence obtained so far. Those who were heard as witnesses, notably the Chief of General Staff, and a significant number of FETO members who were interrogated stated that the coup attempt had been conducted in accordance with Fethullah Gülen’s orders and instructions by FETO members serving within the Turkish Armed Forces.
Within the scope of investigations conducted into the coup attempt, many coup plotters were taken into custody and a great deal of evidence was obtained. While some of the coup plotters have already been interrogated, others will be interrogated soon. Truth will come to light and nothing will remain in the dark as a result of deciphering, analysis, classification and assessment of the evidence (camera footage, computer data, information, documents and data obtained as a result of body searches conducted on suspects, searches conducted at suspects’ homes, vehicles and in other places, records of the city surveillance cameras, mobile phone conversations, SMS and mail contents, witnesses’ statements etc.).
FETO is an armed terrorist organisation established by Fethullah Gülen, which aims to suppress, undermine and direct all the Constitutional institutions and to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey by resorting to force, violence and other unlawful means. To realise such aims, a parallel structure was established within all public institutions of the state notably the judiciary, security directorates and armed forces. The fact that FETO is an armed terrorist organisation had been established with a decision of the Erzincan Assize Court prior to 15 July. Furthermore, numerous cases brought against the organisation in question are still pending.
5. Declaration of State of Emergency and Notification of Derogation under Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Within the scope of the State’s positive obligations, we must ensure that those who attempted to conduct an armed coup are brought before justice in order to hold them accountable and eliminate lingering coup threat. Within this context, it is imperative to identify FETO members who have infiltrated into the State organs and to immediately take action against them. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the State to take measures to ensure that an attack against the will of the nation through undemocratic means will never take place again.
With a view to eliminating the armed coup threat, identifying the coup plotters and ensuring that the necessary steps are most effectively and swiftly taken, the Turkish Council of Ministers declared state of emergency under Article 120 of the Constitution throughout the whole country for 90 (ninety) days with effect from 21 July 2016 at 1.00 a.m. We declared state of emergency not to limit individual rights and freedoms but to enable the State to act more swiftly within the scope of the effective fight against FETO.
On 21 July 2016 the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
was informed in accordance with Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”) that measures taken may involve derogation from the obligations under the Convention for the protection of rights and freedoms.
Similar to Article 15 of the Convention, Article 15 of the Turkish Constitution clearly regulates how the authorities must act in emergency situations. Pursuant to the relevant regulations, we will diligently comply with the principles of “absolute necessity” and “proportionality” while taking measures in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
6- Decree Law no. 667
The first Decree Law issued within the scope of the state of emergency entered into force on 22 July 2016.
Turkey is dealing with FETO, which is an atypical armed terrorist organisation and which is rarely encountered in the world, unlike the PKK or DAESH. There is a need to take all necessary measures to eliminate the organisation’s influence within the State. Therefore, the scope of the Decree has been limited to the terrorist organisations in order not to interfere with the rights and freedoms of others. In view of the situation in Turkey and possible threats of other terrorist organisations, it is clear that a legal regulation specific to FETO cannot be issued.
6.1- Extension of Custody Period
In view of the large number of members of the criminal organisation who took part in the terrorist coup attempt, the duration of custody was increased to a maximum period of thirty (30) days by the Decree, which is limited to the duration of state of emergency. Furthermore, this period applies only to offences committed against the security of the State, constitutional order, State secrets, national defence and terrorist offences as well as offences committed collectively. In addition, during this period;
- 6.2- Restriction on the right of access to a lawyer
Preventing members of terrorist organisation from organisational communication through their lawyers is one of the measures that must be taken within the scope of fight against terrorism. The restriction on suspects’ right of access to a lawyer is not absolute. Suspects are always entitled to have the assistance of a lawyer to be assigned by the Bar Association.
6.3- Dismissal of judges and other public officials
Judiciary is one of the state organs where FETO is most influential. The power that FETO has obtained in the judiciary reached its peak when the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors was re-structured in 2010 and members of the organisation were appointed to critical positions. It became clear in view of the investigations such as Ergenekon case in 2007, Balyoz Case and Military Espionage case thereafter, and unlawful investigation against the Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organisation in 2012 and the 17-25 December coup attempt in 2013. It was positively established by the court decisions that false evidence had been produced in some of these investigations.
Furthermore, judges and prosecutors who are FETO members exercise their judicial powers not in accordance with laws, but in accordance with the instructions of the organisation which they belong. Therefore, there is a need to take immediate measures against these persons. Independent and impartial judicial institutions will take these measures based on the available evidence.
Similarly, necessary procedures can be carried out in respect of FETO members, who infiltrated into the State’s other institutions outside the judiciary. Judicial review is available against these procedures.
6.4- Closure of Private Institutions belonging to FETO
Private institutions and enterprises such as health institutions, schools, dormitories, foundations, associations, universities and unions, belonging to FETO and which carry particular importance in financing the organization and recruiting new members were closed down since they are used to carry out terrorist activities of the organisation. The assets of the closed private institutions and enterprises have been confiscated in order to prevent the financing of the terrorist organisation. For the same reasons, the lease agreements concluded with these persons can be terminated and the rights of usufruct and easement can be abolished.
6.5- Cancellation of passports
Passports of those against whom investigations are conducted have been cancelled to prevent suspects from fleeing abroad and to ensure that investigations are conducted effectively following the coup attempt. In view of the fact that some public prosecutors (for example, Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara
), against whom investigations had been initiated before 15 July due to their membership to FETO fled abroad, the necessity of the measure in question becomes clear.