Turkish police arrest 85 people "spying" for Syria and Greece
Published Monday, January 21, 2013
Turkish police over the weekend detained 85 people including at least 15 lawyers for allegedly spying for Syria and Greece.
Police forces raided seven provinces in a declared operation launched Friday morning against members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
The police accused the detained lawyers of “transferring instructions from organization leaders in prison to militants.”
Nine of the 15 lawyers were reportedly members of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), chaired by Selçuk Kozağaçlı.
The police added that the suspects did not cooperate with the security forces, and that they were then forced to break in and burn CDs and documents.
Kozağaçlı in a statement posted online said that the spying allegations were “ridiculous, especially when they come from people that cannot go to the bathroom without the United States’ permission, and from those that cannot enter NATO bases in their own country.”
Turkish leftists are seen to be generally critical of Turkey’s western-aligned policy towards Syria, accusing the government of having imperialist ambitions and allowing Salafi organizations to enter Syria via Turkey for the transferring of arms.
Kozağaçlı said that they were being persecuted for defending the rights of Syrians and oppressed peoples in Turkey.
Just before he was detained on Sunday morning, Kozağaçlı had told left leaning IMC TV, that they were in Damascus and Beirut meeting with officials and collecting evidence against Turkey in their treatment of Syria.
He had said that they had collected documented proof around those that had opened “the borders [of Turkey] to armed assailants which are killing, raping and looting Syrian people.”
We are the lawyers of the Turks, the Arabs, and the Kurds,” Kozağaçlı told the online T-24 newspaper.
Prior to his arrest, Kozağaçlı had reportedly been in, either, Beirut or Damascus and then arrested upon arrival at the Istanbul airport.
Turkish Hurriyet daily said he was in Damascus prior to his detainment, but Kozağaçlı had told the English language Hurriyet that he had been in Beirut.
Kozağaçlı and the ÇHD have a history of tension with the Turkish police, representing citizens against the internal security apparatus to protect human rights and defend citizens against police torture and violence.
ÇHD recently opened a hotline dubbed “Help, Police,” where citizens could file complaints about police brutality. The name is a parodic reversal of the emergency Turkish police hotline, “Police, Help.”
The ÇHD said in a written statement on Friday that the raids were “police terror against defense.”
“The state is in an all-out attack against the people and institutions who oppose the system and struggle for democracy and freedom,” a statement posted on the association’s website read.
“All these allegations are nonsense. The ÇHD has been struggling against all kinds of violations of human rights since 1974. We did not even give up during the military junta,” he told IMC TV.
He said that they were under attack because their mission was to “defend,” and for that reason the government finds the existence of ÇHD “not bearable.”
A demonstration was held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square Saturday evening, in protest of the the police operation. Among the attendees were pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party deputies along with lawyers and leftists.
Fatma Kayabal contributed to this article.