Lawyer Ebru Timtik dies on 238th day of death fast

ISTANBUL – Lawyer Ebru Timtik died on the 238th day of her death fast. She was on death fast together with lawyer Aytaç Ünsal demanding justice and enforce from Turkish authorities and judiciary a fair trial. Initially by a hunger strike. In April the two lawyers changed their hunger strike into a death fast. The news of her death in an Istanbul hospital was made public via Twitter by the Halkın Hukuk Bürosu.

Timtik and Ünsal’s case started in 2017 when in total 18 alleged member lawyers of the left-wing Contemporary Lawyers Association and the People’s Law Bureau were arrested in a police raid on their law offices. They were accused of being affiliated with the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) which is designated terrorist by Turkey, the EU, and the US. On the basis of testimonies of a crown witness, the court sentenced the 18 lawyers to many years in prison on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” and “being a leader of a criminal organization”.

Upon their conviction, Ebru Timtik, Aytaç Ünsal and other detainees started a hunger strike demanding the reversal of their prison sentence, their release, and the acceptance of the demands of all their clients on hunger strike.

Earlier this year, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court allowed the detained lawyers to be examined at the Forensic Medical Institute which declared them unfit for imprisonment, but they were not released. In August, the Turkish High Court decided that there was no information of critical mortal danger and rejected their release. The lawyers were not released but were eventually forcibly admitted to hospital where Ebru Timtik died. Aytaç Ünsal is on the 205th day of his death fast in Halkalı Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Hospital.

The European Union Action Service issued a statement on the death of Ebru Timtik stating,

“The European Union is deeply saddened by the death of Ebru Timtik, a lawyer who has been on hunger strike for 238 days following her conviction last year for alleged membership of a terrorist organization. She is the fourth prisoner to die this year as the result of a hunger strike, following the deaths of Helin Bölek and Ibrahim Gökçek, two musicians from the Grup Yorum band, and Mustafa Koçak. We offer our condolences to their families.

The tragic outcome of their fight for a fair trial painfully illustrates the urgent need for the Turkish authorities to credibly address the human rights situation in the country, which has severely deteriorated in recent years, as well as serious shortcomings observed in the judiciary.

Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.”