Diyarbakır Bar Members (photo Diyarbakır Bar Association)

Diyarbakır Bar Members Acquitted over ‘Armenian Genocide’ Statement

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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (bianet.org) — A court has acquitted the chair and executives of the Diyarbakır Bar Association in a case concerning a 2019 statement by the bar about the Armenian Genocide. However, systematic trials and prosecutions against the activities of the Diyarbakır Bar continue, as a recent report by the bar demonstrates.

The Diyarbakır 11th Heavy Penal Court acquitted Cihan Aydın, and other members of the Executive Committee of the Diyarbakır Bar in the 2018-2020 period, at an October 17 hearing.

However, this is not the only case against Diyarbakır Bar on similar grounds.

Members of the bar also appeared before the court regarding the following statements in the past: The declaration “We are remembering over one million civilian-innocent Armenians who lost their lives in the genocide with respect” in the statement dated April 12, 2017, titled “April 24 / Great Disaster: We Share the Pain of the Armenian People” published on the website of the Bar; the article dated December 18, 2017, titled, “It Is Shameful to Punish the Expression of Kurdistan, We Cannot Accept it!”, commenting that the sentence given to Osman Baydemir is “shameful”; and a report dated September 14, 2017, called “The Incident Which Resulted from Drone Attack,” where it was reported that those who were killed were civilians.

An investigation was opened against the Diyarbakır Bar again in 2021 for its statement on the Armenian Genocide. The statement of 2021, titled “We Share the Pain of Medz Yeghern” said the following: “Call it either ‘Medz Yeghern’ as the victims do, or ‘Fermana Filla’ as we have heard from our grandfathers and grandmothers, or ‘Genocide’ as Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin who says ‘I was inspired by what was done to the Armenian people when I wrote this’; the reality will not change.”

The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into this statement, charging the bar with “humiliating the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, the institutions of the state.”

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Nahit Eren, chair of Diyarbakır Bar said, “Diyarbakır Bar will not be limiting its own freedom of expression while defending the freedom of expression for everyone to the full extent. We will continue to stand by our words, which we told in line with our values.”

The Diyarbakır Bar had prepared a report on the cases and investigations in 2020 against 69 lawyers among whom are former bar chairs. The report is an attempt to demonstrate the systematic pressure on the bar of the major Kurdish-majority city in Turkey. It reads: “There are systematic trials and prosecutions against the activities of the Diyarbakır Bar and also against the professional activities of its members. At least 78 prosecutions and trials have been started against at least 69 lawyers among whom are chairs and executive committee members who served between 2016-2020 and those who are members of the Bar as of 2020.”

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