Human Rights Monitoring Group Update – April 29, 2016
The Human Rights Monitoring Group (the “Monitoring Group”) is a group of appointed benchers, established in 2006 to monitor human rights violations that target members of the legal profession and the judiciary as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties.
Today, the Law Society has released six public statements expressing grave concerns about the following human rights lawyers:
Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar (Gosterislioglu), Tamer Doğan and Mustafa Rüzgar in Turkey
Reports indicate that on 16 March 2016, police raided the houses of nine lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey and brought the lawyers into custody. All nine are members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association (Özgürlükcü Hukukçular Derneĝi – ÖHD), and represented one or more of 46 lawyers arrested in 2011 while defending the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (“PKP”) on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organization.”
Yuri Grabovski in Ukraine
Yuri Grabovski was a Ukrainian human rights lawyer defending Aleksandr A. Aleksandrov, an alleged Russian intelligence officer. He disappeared on 6 March 2016 while returning to Kiev from a business meeting in Odessa, and his body was found on 25 March 2016 south of Kiev. Yuri Grabovski’s murder is the second killing of a lawyer in Ukraine this month and the fourth since January 2015.
Zhang Kai in China
Zhang Kai is a prominent Beijing human rights lawyer. On 25 August 2015, Zhang Kai was arrested in Wenzhou, Zheijiang Province, while advising a congregation faced with orders to remove the cross from their church. After his arrest, Zhang Kai was placed under residential surveillance in an undisclosed location and was not heard from again until 25 February 2016, when he appeared on state television in a taped confession. After the broadcast, Zhang Kai was charged with “endangering state secrets” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”; thereafter, Zhang Kai was transferred from residential surveillance to criminal detention. On 23 March 2016, Zhang Kai posted on WeChat and Weibo saying that he had been “safely returned to his hometown in Inner Mongolia.” His comments on social media do not provide reasons for his sudden release.
Tigor Gempita Hutapea and Obed Sakti Andre Dominika in Indonesia
The Law Society has received reports that on 30 October 2015, lawyers Tigor Gempita Hutapea and Obed Sakti Andre Dominika were arrested after attending a peaceful protest rally at the Presidential Palace in order to monitor police violence against protestors. The lawyers were subsequently charged under Article 216 of the Indonesian Criminal Code for ‘disobeying police orders’; however, reports indicate that the lawyers and the protestors were already dispersing the area when police started to beat them and put them in custody. The Law Society is deeply concerned that the charges appear to relate solely to their legitimate actions as lawyers and human rights defenders.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Charles Hector, Francis Pereira, and Shanmugam Ramasamy in Malaysia
On 31 March 2016, lawyer and Secretary of the Malaysian Bar Association, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, and lawyers Charles Hector, Francis Pereira, and Shanmugam Ramasamy were arrested and placed under investigation for sedition pursuant to section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948. Reports indicate that the criminal investigation is a political response to a motion tabled by the lawyers at the Malaysian Bar’s General Assembly on 19 March 2016. The motion, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Malaysian Bar, called for the resignation of Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali following his controversial decision to end the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation into the Prime Minister’s financial affairs. The Law Society is concerned by reports that Malaysia continues to use the Sedition Act 1948 in order to silence the Prime Minister’s critics and interfere with the independence of the legal profession.
Sirikan Charoensiri in Thailand
Sirikan Charoensiri is a lawyer with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). On 26 June 2015, 14 student activists of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) were arrested and charged with violating a prohibition on gatherings of more than five people (Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code). Sirikan Charoensiri represented the activists at their hearing along with seven other lawyers from the TLHR. After the activists’ hearing on 27 June 2015, police attempted to conduct a warrantless search of Sirikan Charoensiri’s car. Sirikan Charoensiri refused to consent to the search and attempted to file a complaint alleging police malfeasance. On 9 February 2016, Sirikan Charoensiri was summoned to report to the Chanasongkram Police Station on several criminal charges: concealing evidence (s. 142 of the Penal Code); filing a false police report (s. 172 of the Penal Code); and refusing to comply with an order of a competent official (s. 368 of the Penal Code).