12 protestors taken into custody in the course of anti-government demonstrations in Hopa/Artvin (eastern Black Sea coast) on 31 May were now arrested and imprisoned.
A total of 31 demonstrators were taken into police custody in the course of the protest actions before and after the visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the city. Tensions rose further when the news about the death of protestor Metin Lokumcu spread. The retired teacher suffered a heart attack as a result of a massive exposure to tear gas used by the police to disperse the crowd.
The people in custody were taken from Hopa to the Special Authority Public Chief Prosecution in Erzurum on Sunday and Monday (5/6 June). Twelve people were arrested after they had given their statements; the rest of the group was released.
Uzuner: "Political punishment"
bianet talked to lawyer Gülşen Uzuner, Secretary General of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) Ankara Branch and joint attorney of the individuals who were kept in police custody. Uzuner reported that even though her clients were brought before the Erzurum court on charges of organizational crime, they were not charged with membership in an illegal organization but arrested under allegations of opposing the law on meetings and demonstrations, resistance against the police and harming public property.
Uzuner drew attention to the fact that her clients were heard before a special authority court even though the crimes imputed to them did not fall under the jurisdiction of a special authority court.
Uzuner continued, "It was part of the plan to take these people to Erzurum and give them a 'political punishment' there. We filed an appeal on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction anyways. We will go back to Hopa from here. We have things to do there related to the legal process. Additionally, we will hold a press conference to inform the public".
Topaloğlu: "Arrests 'on demand'"
The former Mayor of Hopa, Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖSD) member Yılmaz Topaloğlu, also thinks that the trial is going to be returned from Erzurum to Hopa because the defendants were not arrested on charges of membership in an illegal organization.
Regarding allegations of "harming public property" and "resistance to the police", Topaloğlu put forward that the twelve people in prison had been arrested "on demand".
"The police blockade in Hopa is still being continued. I think that this appearance of a state of emergency will go on until the elections [on 12 June]. This is part of the policies to intimidate and frighten the public", Topaloğlu explained his view.
Önder Öner and Görgü Deimrpençe, press consultants of independent candidate Birsen Kaya who supports the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), are among the arrested people as well as Cengiz Akyüz, Ender Yalçın, Şaban Koçir, Erhan Köse, Ali Aksu, Şafak Ustabaş, Şinasi Gümüşkaya, İdris Akbıyık, İbrahim Aksu and Yunus Aksu.
Torture investigation demanded
Dilşat Aktaş, member of the Community Centres Central Steering Board (MYK), suffered a broken hip bone and other serious injuries in the course of the police intervention against demonstrators in Ankara on the evening of 31 May. The demonstrators in the capital in fact took the streets to protest the massive police intervention in Hopa that lead to the death of retired teacher Lokumcu. Aktaş filed a criminal complaint.
Aktaş's lawyer Ender Büyükçulha submitted a referring petition to the prosecutor's office on 3 June. He announced that they demanded the prosecution of the responsible people by reason of "aggravated torture".
Lawyer Pınar Akdemir announced that in the same incident her clients Barış Önal and Pınar Akdemir were beaten in police vehicles and as a result sustained a rupture of the eardrum. In a statement made to bianet, Akdemir said that her clients were taken into police custody and released after they had given their statements. She reported that both Önal and Çelik had been heavily beaten. Çelik is going to have a surgery because of the injuries suffered. (EKN/AS/VK)