BHRC expresses concern at recent arrests of academics and activists in Turkey

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BHRC has issued a public statement expressing serious concern at the recent arrests by Turkish authorities of academics and activists. The arrests appear consistent with a sustained attack on dissent as a means of silencing critical voices within Turkey.

On 16 November 2018 fourteen high-profile activists and academics were arrested in Turkey. Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for twenty people including fourteen academics and activists. Twelve of the fourteen people detained have been released after being questioned by police, however an Istanbul academic has been held in custody pending trial – Yigit Aksakoglu, who specialises in education research, and is a staff member of Istanbul’s Bilgi University.

All suspects, including those twelves suspects who have been released, are accused of “creating chaos and mayhem” and “seeking to overthrow the government”.

BHRC is seriously concerned by the methods used by Turkish authorities to carry out these arrests; which appear to fail to follow legal procedures violating fundamental international human rights standards. These rights  include the presumption of innocence as well as freedom of expression and assembly under the rule of law.  The arrests, when taken together with the vast number of other arrests of persons in civil society, raise serious concerns of a determined attempt by Turkish authorities to silence dissent. This falls below the human rights standards which Turkey has agreed to uphold in ratifying International Human Rights Instruments.

The arrests and continued detention of Yigit Aksakoglu and Osman Kavala appear part of a continued and sustained attempt to silence critical voices in Turkey and are, as such, incompatible with Turkey’s human rights commitments.

BHRC urges Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against those arrested on Friday and to release Yigit Aksakoglu and Osman Kavala, and the many others who are being detained without evidence of any wrong-doing.

You can download the full statement here.


  1. For an interview with our spokesperson, please contact Amanda June Chadwick, Coordinator, on +44 (0)7854 197862
  2. For more information on the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), visit our website at
  3. The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, working to protect the rights of advocates, judges and human rights defenders around the world. The BHRC is concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial. It is independent of the Bar Council.


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