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Women's rights activist profiled in IFEX's International Day to End Impunity campaign

Eren Keskin’s case is featured in the International Day to End Impunity campaign, launched by IFEX. Starting on 1 November, an action is revealed daily, until 23 November, the International Day to End Impunity. Click here to see how you can defend Eren Keskin and other free expression advocates, every day

www.daytoendimpunity.org

For over 30 years, Eren Keskin has defended the rights of women who have been subject to violence in her home country of Turkey. As a result, she has faced attempts on her life, imprisonment, harassment from public figures and anonymous death-threats, including calls informing her: “We are measuring your coffin.”

Turkish authorities have permitted this intimidation to continue virtually unaddressed. In 2001, Zeki Genç attempted to kill Keskin in her office. He was arrested and tried, but then released after only six months. Keskin had previously been attacked in 1994 while working as an executive of the Human Rights Association (HRA) of Turkey's Istanbul Branch. In both cases, the bullets missed their target.

"I was threatened with violence for seeking justice for women who have been raped and tortured; just as all human rights activists in Turkey were, and still are," said Keskin.

Instead of receiving justice, Keskin herself was imprisoned for six months in 1995 and in 2002 the Istanbul Bar Association banned her from working as a lawyer for one year upon the request of the Ministry of Justice. Both actions were a result of her articles criticising state policies. Numerous legal proceedings have been launched against Keskin, including a 10-month jail sentence she currently faces.

As co-founder of Legal Aid for Women Who Were Raped or Otherwise Sexually Abused by National Security Forces and through her work with the HRA, Keskin has exposed cases of ill-treatment and use of lethal force by Turkish authorities against demonstrators and prisoners. Internationally, Keskin has received multiple honours recognising her work, including the Aachen Peace Award (2004) and Theodor Haecker Prize for Civic Courage and Political Integrity (2005).

A special thank you to Initiative for Freedom of Expression (Antenna) - Turkey for contributing to this action.

Sign the petition calling on Turkey to bring Eren Keskin's attackers to justice and increase protection for Turkish human rights defenders.

THE LETTER

His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
Vekaletler Caddesi Başbakanlık Merkez Bina
P.K. 06573; Kızılay, Ankara
Turkey

7 November 2013

Dear Prime Minister Erdoğan,

You have said that in Turkey, “Paramount is the need to secure human rights.”

Yet, the ongoing practices of harassment, prosecution and imprisonment of human rights defenders and journalists in your country stand in direct opposition to this conviction. The government's failure to protect citizens who defend human rights and freedom of expression reflects badly on Turkey on the global stage.

Today, your government has an opportunity to demonstrate your stated commitment to securing human rights for the citizens of Turkey, by taking immediate action to protect lawyer Eren Keskin and holding those who have threatened her to account.

Keskin has been working as a lawyer in Istanbul for over 20 years. During this time, she has also sought to raise awareness about violence against women in Turkey, particularly in prisons, and bring the perpetrators of that violence to justice. The international community has recognized her work by honouring her with awards, including the Aachen Peace Award (2004) and Theodor Haecker Prize for Civic Courage and Political Integrity (2005).

In her home country of Turkey however, Keskin is frequently subjected to intimidation, threats and violence:

• On 15 November 2001 Zeki Genç attempted to kill her by firing a gun at her in the Human Rights Association of Turkey, Istanbul Branch. Although he was arrested and tried, he was released after only six months in custody.

• In 2002, Fatih Altayli, columnist and News Manager at Turkey's Channel D stated in a radio interview: “If I do not sexually assault Eren Keskin at the first opportunity, I would be a coward.” He was sentenced only to a fine of 500 Turkish Liras and he did not make a public apology.

• Keskin has also received numerous death threats, including from the Turkish Revenche Brigade and a former police officer.

As we mark the upcoming International Day to End Impunity on 23 November, I ask you to take immediate action bring the perpetrators of the above attacks and threats to justice, and to commit to providing protection from future threats against Keskin and other human rights defenders in Turkey.

Sincerely,

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