IHH’s head office in Fatih has been home to a press conference today asking for the Foundation’s West Bank representative Izzet Sahin’s release, who has been under arrest by Israel.
Bulent Yildirim, President of IHH, Kadriye Sahin, Izzet Sahin’s wife, Cihat Gokdemir, Attorney-at-law also Head of Mazlumder’s Istanbul Branch (The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People), Ozgurder’s President Ridvan Kaya, Fisun Bandir, Head of the Association For Solidarity with Palestinian People and actor Sinan Albayrak were present at the press conference.
Numerous NGOs including Fatih Platform, Medeniyet Association, Insan ve Medeniyet Association, AKABE and AKDAV also attended the conference to show their support.
Izzet Sahin, founder and representative of IHH’s West Bank office, remains in custody in Shabak’s (Israel Security Agency) detention center since the 27th of April. NGOs have launched a request for the release of Sahin. They noted that Sahin’s time in custody and a possible court decision to imprisonment will not be legally acceptable.
Sahin’s wife Kadriye Sahin said “My husband has been kept in custody for more than a week. I am worried for his health and safety. We have three children. They too are concerned about their father. I want my husband to be released.” Then she asked to be excused since she could not continue talking anymore.
We will not step back, if this is an act of retaliation.
Bulent Yildirim, President of IHH, stated that the reason behind Izzet Sahin’s arrest might be to stop the flotilla campaign to Gaza in the end of May. Yildirim said “If Israel wants us to give up on the campaign by doing things like this, they are wrong. We will be taking the humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine by the end of May. We are not doing anything out of legal boundaries.”
He went on to say, “Israel has been keeping our friend in custody for 8 days. He is now being interrogated. Israel’s previous actions make us concerned. There are people who lost their lives under Israeli custody, there are those who were subject to torture. The first two days we were not informed of our friend’s location. Apparently, Sahin had two receipts of aid with him when he got arrested, one from IHH, one from another aid organization in Palestine. He supposedly had videos of Shaikh Rahed Salah’s in his house. Israel declares these as their evidence for the crime. The institution which Rahed Salah is the leader of, is a completely legal organization that is certified by Israel. It is claimed that Sahin is harmful for Israel’s security. How come a person who studies at Hebrew University and coordinates aid work over there is thought to harm Israel’s security? How could this be the truth? Israel claims to be a state of law. However, this arrest is totally an illegal act.”
Yildirim, warning Israel in a decisive manner, said “If our friend is not set free, we will put out all the information on Israel’s dirty actions. There are people from Turkey who go to serve in the Israeli military. Israeli intelligence is arresting and interrogating people in Turkey. We will declare all this to the public.”
Turkish government should act immediately.
Yildirim also mentioned that the Foundation wanted to send 3 lawyers to defend Izzet Sahin, however no response has been received from the Israeli side, “This is an insult to Turkey. Turkish state is now obliged to solve this by sending out a diplomatic warning of the highest degree” he continued.
Visa applications have been launched for the lawyers.
Cihat Gokdemir, Head of Mazlumder’s Istanbul Office, said that they have applied to Israeli consulate for visas to go to Israel to defend Sahin. Gokdemir, if Israel is genuine in her claims to be a state of law, she should grant us visas and let Sahin to be defended by Turkish attorneys.
Sinan Albayrak, a friend of Izzet Sahin and an actor, said “Israel has taken Izzet into custody by using political and diplomatic tricks. A committee of really powerful and effective people should go there to Israel on the day of Izzet’s court appearance. Turkey should once again call out ‘one minute’ to Israel.”
Fisun Bandir, Head of the Association For Solidarity With Palestinian People, “Palestinian issue is a humanitarian issue. Prime Minister Erdogan’s storm-out should not be limited only to Davos. Relations with Israel should be cut off completely.”
Ayhan Ogan, Secretary-General of TGRV, said that they will start protesting altogether with other NGOs unless Israel sets Izzet Sahin free immediately.