Pınar Selek
Turkey: Continued judicial harassment faced by Ms. Pinar Selek



New information

TUR 001 / 0113 / OBS 009

Judicial harassment


January 21, 2013


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.


New information:


The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment faced by Ms. Pinar Selek, a writer and sociologist who has been actively advocating for peace and women's rights and defending the rights of vulnerable communities in Turkey, including women, the poor, street children, sexual minorities and the Kurd and Armenian minorities.


According to the information received, on January 24, 2013, the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 will hear the case against Ms. Pinar Selek and may issue a fourth verdict. She faces charges of causing a bomb to explode in Istanbul’s Egyptian bazaar on July 9, 1998, and of being a member of a terrorist organisation for that purpose. She faces up to life imprisonment.


The Observatory recalls that Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 acquitted her on three occasions: in 2006, 2008, and for the last time on February 9, 2011. Following appeals filed by the Prosecutor, the Court of Cassation quashed the first two acquittal decisions (see background information).


The Observatory reiterates its call on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the judicial harassment that has been targeting Ms. Pinar Selek for 15 years, as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities.


Background information[1]:


In 1998, Ms. Pınar Selek, as a sociologist, carried out a research project that involved interviewing members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), seeking to understand the motivations of both sides in the enduring armed conflict between the Kurdish minority and the Turkish State.


On July 9, 1998, an explosion in the Istanbul Spice Bazaar caused a number of deaths and injuries.


On July 11, 2008, Ms. Pınar Selek was arrested by the security services and interrogated about the people she interviewed during her research. When she refused to reveal the names of her informants, she was severely tortured.


In August 1998, Ms. Pınar Selek was accused of having ordered the bomb attack on the basis of a testimony made by a detainee reportedly under torture. The defendant later withdrew his statement during the trial, saying he did not know Ms. Selek. Police and court’s investigations largely confirmed the absence of any bomb and attributed the explosion to a gas leak.


In December 2000, Ms. Selek was released on bail after she had spent two years and a half in prison. Both in 2006 and 2008, İstanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 acquitted her after determining there was no evidence linking her to the blast. The prosecutor nevertheless appealed twice against these rulings, and the Court of Cassation twice granted the motion by annulling the first instance verdicts. The General Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation appealed against the rulings of the Court of Cassation. On February 9, 2010, the High General Criminal Council of the Court of Cassation rejected the General Prosecutor’s appeal and in its judgement clearly stated that the ruling of the Court of Cassation was reasonable and called for a life prison sentence for Ms. Selek.


On February 9, 2011, Ms. Selek again appeared on trial before İstanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12, which decided to acquit her for the third time. On the next day, the prosecution appealed again to the Court of Cassation. To date, the appeal on the third acquittal remains pending before the Court of Cassation.


In June 2011 and afterwards, several hearings took place before the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 in relation to other aspects of the criminal case.


On November 22, 2012, the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 decided to amend its previous decision to acquit Ms. Pinar Selek. In addition, the Presiding Judge, who was replacing the ordinary presiding judge on sick leave, requested the condemnation of Ms. Selek to life imprisonment before setting a new date for a hearing on December 13, 2012 to hear the observations of the accused.


Ms. Pinar Selek's lawyers filed a petition to revoke the Presiding Judge on account of impartiality. This motion was rejected by Istanbul Heavy Penal Court Nos. 12 and 13.


On December 13, 2012, the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 referred the case to January 24, 2013 to allow the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 14 to examine the petition filed by Ms. Pinar Selek's lawyers.


Actions requested:


i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Pinar Selek as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;


ii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Pinar Selek as well as all human rights defenders in Turkey;


iii. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;

- - its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;

- as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” ;


iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.



· President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 468 5026; Email: [email protected]

· Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Office of the Prime Minister Basbakanlik 06573 Ankara, Turkey, Fax: + 90 312 417 0476; Email: [email protected]

· Deputy Prime Minister Responsible for Human Rights, Mr. Beşir Atalay, Email: [email protected], Fax: + 90 (312) 422 13 98

· Interior Minister, Mr. Idris Naim Şahin, 06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95 / +90 312 418 7696,

· Justice Minister, Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Ministry of Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi, 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 414 62 26

· Foreign Minister, Mr. Ahmed Davudoglu, Office of the Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, 06573 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 287 88 11

· Ambassador, Mr. Oğuz Demiralp, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Ch. du Petit-Saconnex 28b - CP 271, CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland, E-mail: [email protected], Fax: +41 22 734 08 59

· Ambassador, Mr. Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50.


Please also write to the embassies of Turkey in your respective country.



Paris-Geneva, January 21, 2013


Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.


To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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