Jagland: I'll call Prime Minister Yıldırım and ask for Gülmen and Özakça's release

At the first day of PACE's Summer Session our İzmir MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü ask Thorbjørn Jagland, The Secretary General of the Council of Europe what undertakings he has sought from the Turkish authorities to save the lives of the young academics, Gülmen and Özakça. 

Kürkçü's question and Jagland's response were as follows:

Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – In Turkey, two young academics, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, both of whom were dismissed under emergency rule decrees, are close to death in prison after spending some 100 days on hunger strike to reclaim their jobs. What undertakings have you sought from the Turkish authorities to save the lives of those young academics? How will you respond to the ongoing inactiveness of the so-called emergency case commission, about which we heard questions in the previous question session?

Mr JAGLAND – I have requested a call with Prime Minister Yıldırım to talk about those two people, because their cases concern us. They are in very ill health, and I will convey to him that they should be released. They were put in jail because they started a hunger strike against the authorities as no judicial review was open to them. After that, they were charged with being members of a terrorist organisation.

What is important now is that justice starts to work in Turkey. As I have said, we have in place a mechanism for those who were dismissed from the public sector, and that commission must start to work. If those who are affected are not satisfied with the outcome of the commission, they have a judicial avenue, which may end up in the Court of Human Rights here in Strasbourg. The Court’s last decision states clearly that it will review whether the commission works according to the standards. If it does not, the Court will of course start to hand down judgments.

It is important that we all understand the procedures. The Court cannot take in applications without judicial review having taken place at the domestic level. The Convention itself states that one has to exhaust domestic remedies before coming to the Court. That is the mechanism we have in place. If we did not, we would have lost a lot of time, because in the first case that the Court had to deal with, it would have ruled, “Please establish this domestic remedy,” and the Committee of Ministers would have started collectively to implement that judgment. That would have taken a long, long time. We have that mechanism in place so that we do not lose time. It is important to get everyone to understand and support that mechanism, because it is now the only tool in Europe to safeguard the rights of the people affected by the attempted coup. I will say to the prime minister that it has to start working immediately.

With regard to those who are now on hunger strike, one has to do whatever one can to see to it that no lives are lost, and therefore, of course, the only solution is to release them. That is the first step.

26 June 2017