Human rights lawyer Filiz Kalayci worked mostly on human rights issues. She was the director of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association for five years and travelled to almost every prison in Turkey, to listen to the political prisoners’ complaints and to fight for justice. She was also one of the founders of the People’s Lawyers Union, Human Rights Association Ankara branch chair and later in the executive committee as well as the Association for the Families of the Imprisoned.
Throughout the 13 years she worked as a lawyer in Turkey, Kalayci has been tried, threatened and imprisoned. On May 12, 2009 Filiz Kalayci was, together with three colleagues, arrested by the Ankara Anti-Terror Branch. Reasons for the arrest were not revealed, but the arrest took place shortly after Kalayci and her colleagues had lodged an official complaint against the same police unit for abuse of duty and using coercion on the detainees.
During the arrest, all clients’ case files, letters from our clients, CDs and computer harddiscs were confiscated. Furthermore it became clear that Kalayci and her colleagues had been under surveillance for a period prior to the arrest. After being held in custody for three days in which she refused to answer more than 200 questions, Kalayci was released. However, on the 27th of May 2009 she was arrested again. Kalayci and her colleagues are accused of PKK membership. Press statements were evidence of crime. Their professional work on investigating torture and ill treatment claims in prisons and their phone talks with colleagues were seen as organizational activities. Kalayci could be sentenced to 5-10 years in prison.
After 8 months Kalayci was released from prison, after national and international organizations campaigned for her release. The trial against her is however still continuing. To keep international pressure on the authorities, L4L monitored two of the sessions in the legal proceedings against Kalayci, in February and March 2012. Filiz Kalayci is currently residing in Austria with family.
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