Eight lawyers, who were all members of the now-closed Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), are on a hunger strike in prison, demanding a fair trial, according to Turkish media reports.
The lawyers began the hunger strike on Feb. 3 in protest of the lengthy jail sentences they were handed down on terrorism charges.
All the lawyers were arrested in a September 2018 operation.
Among the lawyers is former ÇHD Chairperson Sulçuk Kozağaçlı, a human rights attorney who received the Lawyers for Lawyers Award for 2019.
Kozağaçlı was sentenced to 11 years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization in a trial that concluded in March 2019.
Lawyer Hüseyin Çevik, a former ÇHD member who follows the trials of jailed lawyers, said the trials are politically motivated.
“It is very obvious that the hand of the government is behind the trial of my colleagues. When they were first detained on Sept.12, 2018, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu came to the İstanbul Security Directorate and personally observed their interrogations for hours. Then, they were re-arrested only 24 hours after their initial release,” he said.
Çevik also noted that the lawyers began the hunger strike due to the series of unlawful actions they had experienced.
“The only thing they want is a fair trial both for themselves and for their clients,” he added.
The ÇHD is among the hundreds of organizations in Turkey that were closed down by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 on the pretext of an anti-coup fight.