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Human rights defender receives death threat from Turkish Revenge Brigade

(BIANET/IFEX) - Minority rights defender Prof. Baskin Oran received his fourth threat from the Turkish Revenge Brigade (TIT) on 2 June 2011. The threatening message was sent by e-mail to the Armenian "Agos" newspaper where Oran is working as a columnist.

While the TIT has threatened Oran four times in total so far, the lecturer at the Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences has also received countless threats from so-called "sensitive citizens". Also after the latest threat, Oran applied to the prosecution and filed a criminal complaint. In an interview with BIANET, Oran, a former member of the Prime Ministry's Human Rights Advisory Board (BİHDK), held the judiciary responsible for the death threats he received because, in his opinion, the courts did not fulfil their duty accordingly.

"If the supreme Turkish judiciary proceeds this way, these people will continue threatening me," Oran stated. "I will file a criminal complaint every time they threaten me. Yet, as long as the judiciary continues not fulfilling their duty, these people will continue threatening me and this process is going to carry on that way".

Oran told BIANET that he has received personal protection ever since the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January 2007. However, this protection does not serve its purpose because of the way the judiciary is operating, Oran believes.

The threatening letter contained a death list including Turkish-Armenian journalist Etyen Mahcupyan and leading Kurdish politicians Osman Baydemir, Sebahat Tuncel and Akin Birdal. The letter was signed by the TIT and read as follows:

"He leads a dishonourable life by currying favour with the Armenians. Baskin Oran, you still cannot put up with the word 'Turk' on Turkish soil. (. . .) Take your dogs and go to Armenia. Otherwise, death will be the inevitable end for you. (. . .) Your time has come to die. (. . .) We hereby announce as the Turkish Revenge Brigade that we will close this account. On 17 June, we will remove the bastard called Baskin Oran and we will show the power of the Turkish reputation".

Oran received the first death threat from the TIT on 30 May 2008. He received two further threats in the same year saying "You will not gain anything by complaining about us to the state".

Oran lodged a criminal complaint with the Special Authority Ankara Prosecution about the sender of the first threatening message which was signed "What do you care what do I care". The Ankara authorities decided there was a "lack of jurisdiction" since the message had apparently been sent from an internet café in Istanbul. The file was transferred to Istanbul. The file was forwarded to a court in Adana when the sender of the message was determined as being a person called Bilal Sekerlisoy, a resident of Mersin. Since the mail had been sent to a recipient in Istanbul, the file was again returned there. However, the Istanbul court decided for lack of jurisdiction because Oran lived in Ankara. So eventually, the file was sent back to Ankara.

Baskin Oran wrote in an article published on 12 June 2011 in his column in "Radikal Iki", a supplement of the "Radikal" newspaper: "This carries a maximum penalty of six months, if a sentence will be handed down at all, and the pronouncement of judgement is going to be postponed. (. . .) Regarding two other threats, the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of First Instance and the Ankara 9th Magistrate Criminal Court decided on acquittals. The sender was determined as well as the time and the computer it was sent from. But the supreme judiciary sent the file to an expert. The report that came from there stated that 'everybody can enter somebody else's account and send a message from there'. The file is currently pending at the court of appeals".

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