Turkey: Urgent Action letter to UN Special Procedures: Imminent risk to health and life of ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk | Joint letter

See the full urgent action letter (EN)

Aysel Tuğluk. Amerika’nın Sesi (VOA, 2014)

On 20 January 2022, LRWC was among 43 human rights organizations signing an urgent action letter to six UN Special Procedures mandates to express grave concern over the treatment of the seriously ill prisoner, a human rights lawyer, Aysel Tuğluk (56), who is being held in the Kocaeli Kandıra F-Type prison in Turkey.

The joint letter was sponsored by the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project. Ms. Tuğluk has been unlawfully imprisoned since December 2016 because of her legitimate political activities as a member of pro-Kurdish political parties. See the full urgent action letter which seeks the intervention of UN Special Procedures mandate holders to, among other things, urge the Turkish Government to immediately release Aysel Tuğluk and other severely ill prisoners.

Excerpts of the letter are as follows:

Ms. Tuğluk was arrested in 2016 while she was the vice co-chair of the left wing and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) along with several other Kurdish opposition politicians. She was given a ten-year prison sentence on terrorism charges and has been held in prison since December 2016. Her political activities, speeches she delivered while she was a member of parliament (MP) and her attendance at funerals of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members were used as evidence against her in court.

Ms. Tuğluk was diagnosed with dementia while in prison, and as her condition deteriorated, Kocaeli University Hospital department of Forensic Medicine issued a report in July 2021, declaring that she was not fit to stay in prison due to her illness. However, despite this report and the calls from other medical experts asking for her immediate release, the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute determined in a later report that Ms. Tuğluk may stay in prison, as her routine visits to clinics were allowed.

Her lawyer states that Ms. Tuğluk is experiencing severe memory loss and cannot handle her daily needs on her own. She has been forgetting to conduct her vital needs such as eating and drinking water, as well as forgetting how to read, write and speak to people. Ms. Tuğluk is at risk of death, if she remains in prison.

The condition of detention in Turkish prisons remains to be a cause of concern with regard to human rights abuses. The issue of overcrowding became the source of many human rights abuses as the prison population grew rapidly from 55,000 in 2001 to 297,019 in 2020.4 Over the last years, the number of those incarcerated and on pre-trial detention has risen dramatically following the coup attempt in July 2016. Tens of thousands of people are currently in prison, many of whom face charges under the controversial terrorism legislation. Among them are many opposition politicians, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.


See the full urgent action letter which seeks the intervention of UN Special Procedures mandate holders to, among other things, urge the Turkish Government to immediately release Aysel Tuğluk and other severely ill prisoners.

See the list of signatories below.

  1. Sanya Karakaş, Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project (TLSP), the United Kingdom (and on behalf of)
  2. AĞ-DA Toplumsal Cinsiyet Eşitliği Dayanışma Ağı (Gender Equality Solidarity Network), Turkey
  3. Asociación Libre de Abogadas y Abogados, (Free Association of Lawyers, ALA), Madrid, Spain
  4. Batman Barosu (Batman Bar Association), Turkey
  5. Bingöl Barosu (Bingöl Bar Association), Turkey
  6. Conseil national des barreaux (CNB), France
  7. Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (Progressive Lawyers’ Association, ÇHD), Turkey
  8. Dersim -Tunceli- Barosu (Dersim -Tunceli- Bar Association), Turkey
  9. Diyarbakır Barosu (Diyarbakır Bar Association), Turkey
  10. Düşünce Suçu(!?)na Karşı Girişim (Initiative for Freedom of Expression), Turkey
  11. Eşit Haklar İçin İzleme Derneği (Association for Monitoring Equal Rights), Turkey
  12. European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH)
  13. European Democratic Lawyers (AED)
  14. Hak İnisiyatifi Derneği (the Rights Initiative), Turkey
  15. Hakkari Barosu (Hakkari Bar Association), Turkey
  16. Human Rights Committee of the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein, DAV), Germany
  17. Indian Association of Lawyers, India
  18. İnsan Hakları Gündemi Derneği (Human Rights Agenda Association), Turkey
  19. International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
  20. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
  21. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  22. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  23. International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk (OIAD)
  24. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Canada
  25. London Legal Group, the United Kingdom
  26. Mardin Barosu (Mardin Bar Association), Turkey
  27. Medya ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Derneği (Media and Law Studies Association, MLSA), Turkey
  28. Muş Barosu (Muş Bar Association), Turkey
  29. National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), Philippines
  30. Özgürlük için Hukukçular Derneği (Association of Lawyers for Freedom, ÖHD), Turkey
  31. P24 (Platform for Independent Journalism), Turkey
  32. Republikanischer Anwältinnen – und Anwälteverein e.V. (Republican Lawyers Association, RAV), Germany
  33. Rosa Kadın Derneği (Rosa Women’s Association), Turkey
  34. Siirt Barosu (Siirt Bar Association), Turkey
  35. Syndicat des Avocats pour la Démocratie: le SAD, Belgium
  36. Şanlıurfa Barosu (Şanlıurfa Bar Association), Turkey
  37. Şırnak Barosu (Şırnak Bar Association), Turkey
  38. The Center for Research and Elaboration on Democracy/ Group of International Legal Intervention (CRED/GIGI)
  39. The Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers (Giuristi Democratici), Italy
  40. The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, (NADEL), South Africa
  41. Toplum ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Vakfı (Foundation for Society and Legal Studies), Turkey
  42. Turkish-German Forum of Culture, Germany
  43. Van Barosu (Van Bar Association), Turkey