The ICJ is deeply concerned by the assassination attempt perpetrated against Mr. Akin Birdal, President of the largest Turkish non-governmental human rights organization, the Human Rights Association (IHD), on 12 May 1998.
Mr. Birdal, who was very badly wounded from multiple gunshots, remains today in a critical condition. According to information received, Mr. Birdal was shot by two unidentified men at the lHD headquarters in Ankara.
A month after the adoption by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights of the long-awaited draft Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, this assassination attempt demonstrates how vulnerable human rights activists are.
Since its inception in 1987, the IHD and its members have been subject to frequent attacks, harassment and prosecution. Yesterday’s shooting is the worst in a long series of attempts to stop the work of the IHD.
The ICJ calls upon the Turkish authorities to :
- immediately open an enquiry to identify and arrest those responsible for the shooting and bring them to justice;
- take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of Mr. Akin Birdal, other members of the IHD, and all human rights defenders in the country, in accordance with Article 12 of the draft Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
- ensure that, in accordance with Article 11 of the draft Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Akin Birdal, other members of the IHD, and all human rights defenders in the country, be allowed “the right to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession”.
These measures constitute a very minimum response to the gravity of the human rights violation epitomised by this assassination attempt.AdvocacyLegal submissions