Gay Rights Advocate and HDP Member Arrested


leventISTANBUL (Combined Sources) — Turkish human rights lawyer Levent Piskin was arrested on Monday, November 14 during a dawn raid at his Istanbul home, after visiting in prison the leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP Party, Selahattin Demirtas. The latter was among 10 members of parliament who were arrested last week in Turkey, the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD) announced.

Piskin is a member of the group and a campaigner for the LGBTI movement.

The lawyer was accused by pro-government daily Sabah of spreading ”terrorist propaganda” after delivering to German media a message Demirtas had sent from jail. The OHD is among the 370 organizations shut down Friday by the interior ministry on charges of being ”terrorist organizations”, based on a decree of the state of emergency issued after the failed coup on July 15.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the Federation of International Human Rights (with the French acronym FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) sent out a communiqué in the wake of the arrest.

According to the information received, on November 14, at 5:30 a.m., the police raided Piskin’s apartment, confiscated some of his belongings, including his computer and phone, and arrested him. The Public Prosecution Office ordered him to be placed in custody. He was later transferred to Bursa Detention Centre.

The arrest would be related to his visit to his client, Member of Parliament. Selahattin Demirtas, HDP co-Chair, detained since November 4. No formal charges have been brought against him yet.

The day of his arrest, he was supposed to defend 46 lawyers, including lawyers Ayse Acinikli and Ramazan Demir.

Over the past years, Piskin has been suffering constant harassment. A bomb went off in his garden which is apparently related to Turkish nationalists. In March 2014, he was sued by President Erdogan and sentenced by the Istanbul’s 14th Criminal Court to pay 10 thousand liras (around $3,700) in damages for “insult, slander or heavy provocation of a public official for their public service.” He reacted to a speech by Mr. Erdogan, Prime minister at the time, who said that “if Alevilik is about loving Ali, I’m a perfect Alevi”, and tweeted “Waiting for PM to declare, ‘I am a perfect fag’. Obviously I will not learn how to be a fag from you. Kisses.#AnayasadaLGBT [LGBT in the Constitution ]”.