Okeil: the Turkish Authorities shall bear the full legal responsibility if anything happened to him
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights has renewed its complaint to the UN Special Procedures, especially the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, urging them to immediately intervene and pressure the Turkish authorities to release the Palestinian journalist Ahmad Mahmoud Ayesh Al-Astal, who has been living in Turkey for 7 years. Al-Astal was reportedly kidnapped last October from a street in Istanbul, while he was searching for a new home, according to Hossam Al-Astal, the brother of the kidnapped journalist, who confirmed that his brother’s house was stormed by unknown figure while he and his family were out two weeks before the kidnapping. He added that his personal computer and some papers and files related to his work were stolen.
After communicating with the Al-Astal family and obtaining a consent from them, Maat for Peace sent a complaint to the United Nations Special Procedures last October, demanding the Turkish authorities to instantly disclose the fate of Al-Astal, who was kidnapped and forcibly disappeared by them. In response to the pressure exerted by Maat, the Turkish authorities, having at first denied knowing the details of the case, the Turkish authorities acknowledged on October 19, 2020, to arrest Al-Astal and to charge him with intelligence with the UAE.
For his part, Ayman Okeil, president of Maat, called on the Turkish authorities to release the journalist Ahmed Al-Astal and drop the charges against him and dozens of thousands of prisoners held in connection with unfair trials and without adequate procedural guarantees. Many of these prisoners were arrested because of their political opinions and their peaceful criticism of the Erdogan government’s policies that violate human rights guaranteed by the Turkish constitution and international law. The context of the Covid-19 pandemic makes the release of these prisoners more urgent, so that incarceration in overcrowded prisons and unsanitary conditions does not turn into an actual death penalty. It also called for putting an end to criminal investigations and prosecutions of individuals for the peaceful expression of their views.