Cinmen: Since 2016, detentions have been employed as a means of punishment in Turkey

The government tries to intimidate and criminalize people who disagree with its values, language
Lawyer Ergin Cinmen discussed the arrest of Gulsen: What happened to her is another case of drawing red lines for the rest of the society. The state has certain red lines and the judiciary operates within those lines.

Reactions to the detention of Gulsen, an artist, are growing. Gulsen, who was investigated four months ago for her remarks regarding Imam Hatip school graduates at a concert, was detained at her home in Besiktas, Istanbul. After giving a statement at the Istanbul Police Headquarters Public Security Branch, she was taken to court and arrested before placing in Bakirkoy closed women's prison. Prior to her arrest, Gulsen made the following statement on her social media account.

"A joke I made among my colleagues, with whom I have worked for many years, in a business and working environment has been revealed and published by those who seek to polarize society. I regret that my words have given material to ill-intentioned people who seek to further the polarization in the country. In standing up for the freedom I believe in, I see that I myself have been swung to the extremes I have condemned. I apologize to anyone who was offended and hurt by my remarks in the video. I should have found a different expression; I will find it."

Women, artists, advocacy groups and many others reacted to Gulsen's arrest. Social media criticized her arrest because the same judicial system that can try child molesters, murderers of women, and rapists without arresting them, and even grants them impunity, found it necessary to arrest her for trial.

So why is Gulsen actually under arrest? What could be the purpose of her detention?

Lawyer Ergin Cinmen, who organized the 1 minute of darkness for permanent light protests, and who is a spokesman for the Citizens' Initiative and the Peace Initiative, discussed Gulsen's arrest with Gerceknews.


Lawyer Ergin Cinmen states that Gulsen was detained for the offense under Article 216/1 of the Turkish Penal Code, while the phrase she used constitutes the crime of "publicly denigrating a section of the public on the basis of social, class, racial, religious, sect, gender or regional differences" that is stipulated in Article 216/2, adding, "The detention violates first and foremost the ECHR, as well as the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure."

Cinmen notes that the penalty for these offenses is from six months to one year, and that the last clause of Article 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the conditions for incarceration provides that an arrest warrant may not be issued for offenses not exceeding two years.

"Doesn't the prosecutor know that? Sure he knows. Then why did this prosecutor decide to call for an arrest of Gulsen? As if that were not enough, the Criminal Court of Peace actually issued the warrant for Gulsen's arrest. Such a practice is one of the consequences of the new regime established in Turkey after the 2016 coup attempt. What happened yesterday is one of the anti-democratic practices brought about by the party-state system, the so-called presidential government system," Cinmen expressed, adding that in such a dictatorial regime, certain ideas are feared and the law is used as an instrument to fight them. Cinmen stressed that Gulsen's arrest was merely politically motivated, adding that people who do not conform to the ideas of the political power are taken from one place to be locked up in another, supposedly to enforce the law.

"Unfortunately, I believe we will be subjected to such a regime in our country for a long time to come," Cinmen told, recalling that Sedef Kabas and Hakan Aygun went through a similar experience despite the ban on their arrests.


Cinmen pointed out that the issue is not the prosecution or trial of Gulsen, but the detention. Cinmen said that detention is one of the measures to be taken in order to be able to conduct a trial and that it is not a way of punishment, but that this measure is employed in Turkey, as in all repressive states, for the purpose of intimidation.

"Incarceration is carried out as a punishment. However, punishment can only come after a trial, where witnesses are heard, the defense is presented, information is gathered, and everyone is convinced that a crime has been committed, but restriction of freedom through detentions is not like that. In Turkey, 2016 (I give this date in particular) is a milestone in terms of such practices. These arrests have started to be used as a means of punishment. It is the jurists who are responsible for this and that poses a great danger," Cinmen stated, adding that a pattern has begun to form in Turkish jurisprudence and that it has become commonplace to carry out such imprisonments in this way.


Cinmen believes that Gulsen's arrest is an attempt to set an example to society so that people will abide by certain boundaries, and that no one can open their mouths about Imam Hatip's schools anymore, and that from now on anyone who speaks on the subject will have to fear being arrested before trial and staying in jail for a while.

Declaring that the state has certain red lines and that the judiciary operates within those lines, Cinmen continues as follows.

"Another example of the establishment of such boundaries can be found in the government's discourse against LGBTI+ people. So anyone who sides with LGBTI+ people and tries to defend their rights is also in danger. This has been true from the Istanbul Convention to this day. These red lines can be defined by religion and statements about religion. They can be drawn by declarations regarding LGBTI+. The Gezi arrests, the Kavala arrest/conviction were also intended to define such lines. And when activities that were once legal are criminalized and presented one day in an indictment, this is another way of introducing these red lines into society. The dismissal of elected HDP mayors from their posts and their imprisonment, and the appointment of officials who have nothing to do with those offices in their place is another example. This is a message for the people not to run for those offices. These things would not happen in any democratic society, but in Turkey it is done systematically."

Cinmen says that there are names protected by the political structure, that many mafiosi and bribers who should be under criminal threat are not, while those who should not be are.


Cinmen claims that the measure is not the law, but the perception of the political power over life and people, and that they have pushed the limits of this measure as to cover the lowest levels of public affairs through the judiciary, to which Cinmen attributes the lack of democracy in Turkey. Cinmen says that this state system could seriously debate whether Adam and Eve were ignorant or not in a case that almost ended with the detention of Sezen Aksu in the end. And he claims that Aksu was going to be arrested just like Gulsen, but because she is a very popular artist and protected by so many different members of the society as well as the reactions they received, they stopped it with a phone call. Finally, Cinmen concluded with the following:

"Now let me tell you what will happen with Gulsen. By now, his lawyer has most likely filed an objection, the case is before a judge, and this judge will most likely make a decision upon a phone call from the Minister of Justice. In other words, the outcome of this objection will be decided based on the opposition from the society."

*Esra Ciftci was born in Istanbul as the daughter of a family from Dersim. She completed her primary and secondary education in Istanbul. While studying psychology at Istanbul University, she stepped into journalism. She worked as an editorial board member and columnist in different newspapers, and conducted research on children victims of migration and war. She continues to work on women in prison and conducts special interviews for +Gercek and GercekNew

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