Turkish academic, rights activist sentenced to over 2 years in prison on terrorism charges

A Turkish court in Istanbul handed down a two year and six month sentence to Turkish academic and chairwoman of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Şebnem Korur Fincancı over terrorism propaganda charges, Evrensel newspaper reported.

Fincancı, Turkey’s top expert on torture documentation, was on trial for signing a petition in January 2016 entitled “We will not be party to this crime.” The petition condemned the practices of Turkish security forces in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast after fighting resumed with armed Kurdish groups in 2015.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the signatories “pseudo-intellectuals” and accused them of treachery for demanding foreign observers oversee the conflict zones, after the petition was made public.

Legal repercussions against the signatories soon followed, leaving many stripped of their academic positions and passports, left without funding, or facing arrest and trial.

Turkish courts have handed down an array of sentences to the academics, with some getting on average 15 month reduced and suspended sentences.

The prosecutors in the Fincancı case included new documents in her case while, including a report prepared by TİHV on the situation in the southeastern town of Cizre after Turkish military’s operation, Evrensel said.

The court delivered Fincancı’s sentence as two years and six month, the maximum sentence stipulated by Turkish Criminal Law for terrorism propaganda charges.

Fincancı last month received the Hessian Peace Prize, given each year to individuals who rendered outstanding service to furthering mutual understanding among countries and peace. She was granted the award for her efforts for the rehabilitation of torture victims as well as her research and documentation of torture.

Fincancı is the co-writer of “Istanbul Protocol”, universal work on standardising investigation and documentation of traces of torture.