A revolutionary lawyer died in Istanbul hospital after 238 days of Death Fast demanding fair trial and independent justice

Lawyer Ebru Timtik, who had been on a Death Fast (hunger strike till death) for 238 days, demanding a fair trial, died on the evening of August 27, 2020, at Sadi Konuk Hospital in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district. Lawyer Timtik and her fellow lawyer, Aytaç Ünsal, went on an indefinite hunger strike earlier this year against their unjust sentences based on false testimonies given by police informants. In April, the two lawyers announced that they were turning their protest into a Death Fast that would continue until their main demand – a fair trial – was accepted by the fascist oligarchy in Turkey. On September 4, lawyer Aytaç Ünsal announced that he was ending the Death Fast after concrete steps were taken to accept the demands raised at the beginning of the protest.

In this article, we will try to give more details about who was lawyer Ebru Timtik, what she fought for, what were the reasons for the Death Fast, what were the reactions of her comrades, the opposition in Turkey, as well as and how the news of her death was received internationally.

The farce called a lawsuit

A farce, a theater of the absurd, a play of lies, are perhaps some of the words we could use to describe the trial of lawyer Ebru Timtik and her comrades and fellow lawyers from the People’s Law Bureau (Halkın Hukuk Bürosu) and the Progressive Lawyers Association. (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği).

This process was a natural result of the work of lawyer Ebru Timtik and her colleagues in recent years. On September 12, 2017, the offices of the People’s Law Bureau located in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Izmir, and Istanbul were raided by agents of the political police and SWAT teams. 18 lawyers were detained during the raids, and on the orders of the fascist oligarchy, they were imprisoned. For a year, the revolutionary lawyers were held completely illegally and unjustly in solitary confinement in prisons located in different parts of Turkey.

A year after they were imprisoned, in September 2018, the revolutionary lawyers were brought to the court. The court ordered their release because the case file was virtually empty, with no evidence against the lawyers. However, lawyers’ freedom lasted only 10 hours. As a result of the intervention of the fascist oligarchy in Turkey, as well as the pressure exerted by it on judges and prosecutors, a new court order was issued, according to which all lawyers had to be arrested again. Almost all the lawyers released by the court were arrested in a matter of hours and imprisoned again. However, Ebru Timtik did not give in to this repression. She chooses to live illegally, hiding from the police for months. During this period she continued her law practice, training new young lawyers who will take their place in the fight. On June 20, 2019, during a new raid by the political police and SWAT teams against the People’s Law Bureau, she was detained and imprisoned.

At the hearings against the lawyers held at the end of 2018 and in March 2019, the fascist oligarchy, the political police, the prosecution, and the court, using the false testimony of several police informants and informers, literally fabricated accusations against the revolutionary lawyers, including Ebru Timtik. The lies and false allegations, which were naturally prepared by the political police before, were used as evidence of “crimes committed by lawyers.” Their “crimes” were the public cases in which they participated in the last decade, the most striking example of which is the case against the company that owns the mine in the town of Soma, western Turkey, in which a fire in May 2014 killed 301 miners and hundreds of others were injured.

In March 2019, at the final hearing of the trial against the people’s lawyers, as they are known in Turkey, the court of the fascist oligarchy sentenced 18 lawyers to a total of 159 years in prison, the main charge against them was “management and membership in an illegal organization.” The decision of the court of the first instance was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Istanbul in early October 2019. According to the confirmed decision of the court of the second instance, the lawyers – Aytaç Ünsal and Ebru Timtik were sentenced to 10 years and 13 years and 6 months in prison, respectively.

Violations of legal norms, Turkish law, international law, and a host of other irregularities that were an integral part of the so-called “lawsuit” were included in a special report prepared by the Council of European Bar Associations and Associations of Lawyers (CCBE), the International Bar Association (UIA) and 22 other lawyers’ organizations from around the world.

In June this year, a Turkish translation of the report prepared by the international lawyers’ organizations was submitted to the Supreme Court of Cassation of Turkey. The 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation has ruled that the convictions of all people’s lawyers, except for lawyers Barkın Timtik(Ebru Timtik’s sister), Selçuk Kozağaçlı, and Ezgi Çakır, shall be upheld.

Last but not least, we must mention the so-called “Protected witnesses” used by the fascist oligarchy in this fabricated trial. All three are police informants, they gave their “testimonies” via the SEGBIS video-conference system of the Turkish ministry of (in) justice, and their faces were hidden. Interesting and quite scandalous is the fact that the third “protected witness” is fictional and in reality, such a person does not exist. However, the prosecutor in the case did not mind signing the “testimony” given by the non-existent “witness”. Yes, you read properly, a prosecutor signs a document with false content. One of the two real “protected witnesses”, who appeared as a “witness” in 147 different cases, during one of the hearings of the trial against the revolutionary lawyers, asked the judge “Which case is this, I don’t remember them all anymore?”

Why did people’s lawyers choose the path of resistance? What did they want?

The sentences handed down to the people’s lawyers were again ordered by the fascist oligarchy. That is, this is not about an independent and impartial tribunal and a fair trial.

For this reason, the revolutionary lawyers said, “We do not accept sentences of 159 years!” Two of the convicted lawyers, Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, went on a Death Fast with the main demand – a fair trial. Their goal was to achieve justice through their hunger, to show that they would not bowhead to injustice. They wanted to be tried fairly, they wanted the rule of law to be observed. But this demand was not limited to them and their colleagues. Injustice was a problem of the whole nation, justice was a common demand of all. Ebru and Aytaç decided to go on a Death Fast, both to draw attention to the injustice they are facing and to make public the demand for justice for the people.

Ebru Timtik went on an indefinite hunger strike on January 3, 2020, and Aytaç Ünsal together with four other colleagues went on a hunger strike on February 3, 2020. The two lawyers continued their protest in this form until April 5, 2020, on which date they announced that they were turning the indefinite hunger strike in a Death Fast The choice of date was not accidental, April 5 is marked as the day of the lawyer in Turkey, so they had chosen their professional holiday to announce their decision.

For months, Ebru and Aytaç resisted through their hunger for justice, for the right to a fair and just trial. The authorities, who covered their ears, who pretended that they did not exist, did everything in their power not to accept their demands. The resistance, which lasted for months, caused the health of Ebru and Aytaç to deteriorate significantly.

Due to their deteriorating health, their lawyers appealed to the court to reconsider their detention measures. According to the lawyers’ written statement, the court-ordered doctors from the Istanbul Institute of Forensic Medicine to examine Ebru and Aytaç. Doctors drew up a report according to which the two could no longer remain in prison due to their extremely deteriorated health.

However, instead of ordering their release, the 37th panel of the Istanbul Criminal Court issued a decision forcibly placing Ebru and Aytaç in hospital for “treatment”. This happened despite the report issued by the doctors from the forensic medicine institute. The two lawyers were hospitalized in 2 different hospitals in Istanbul, where coronavirus patients were being treated and where there was a real risk of infection for both of them. From July 30, 2020, until her death on August 27, day 238 of the Death Fast resistance, people’s lawyer Ebru Timtik was held in the absence of basic hygiene, in conditions more severe and risky than those of an isolation prison cell.

A lawyer of the people, a revolutionary, a tireless, irreconcilable fighter for bread and justice

Ebru Timtik was a lawyer of the people. For years, she was side by side with the people in the courthouses, in the courtrooms, on the squares, on the streets, in every place where there were people who resisted and fought for bread, justice, and freedom. She was a lawyer for the inhabitants of the poor neighborhoods, whose homes were demolished by the fascist state, of the peasants whose mountains, forests, rivers were plundered and ravaged by the capitalists. Ebru was a lawyer of the workers, the civil servants, the university and school students fighting for their rights and freedoms. She was also a lawyer for the workers killed in the mines, on the construction sites, in the factories, for the profit of the insatiable capitalists. Ebru was a lawyer for all those killed or maimed by the police. She was a lawyer for people tortured under custody and in prisons. She was a lawyer for all those who became victims of the injustices that are part of the lives of all the oppressed, not only in Turkey but everywhere where the imperialists and their lackeys rule.

In short, Ebru was the people’s lawyer. She did not expect justice to be achieved only through legal norms and laws, she did her best during the cases of her clients (it would be wrong to call them clients because she never did her job expecting to make money from it). But she did not limit herself to courtrooms, she sought for justice on the streets and squares, fighting for law and justice, relying on her legitimacy and justice. Ebru was the proud lawyer of proud people.

During her long months in solitary confinement, Ebru never once complained about the hardships of the captivity. Her friends tell that she often said, “We have to accept the fact that this is the price of our struggle. If we are thrown into these cells, then we are fighting well, we are on the right path. ” Yes, Ebru was fighting well, very well. Her anger against the people’s enemies was as strong as her love for the people. It instilled fear in the enemies of the people.

She wasn’t just a lawyer, she was a comrade, a friend, a mother, an elder sister.

Who killed Ebru Timtik?

Ebru Timtik’s murderer is the fascist oligarchy in Turkey, which illegally imprisoned her, issued an order for sentences for 159 years in prison for her and her colleagues, and doomed all the people to injustice. Ebru’s murderer is the fascist oligarchy’s goverment that interfered in the work of the court, which, through orders and pressure to prevent the release of Ebru and Aytaç, did everything in its power not to release them even though they had reached the brink of death.

Ebru’s murderer is the fascist oligarchy that in the last days of her life threw her into a cramped hospital room with worse conditions than a prison cell, in which there was no airflow, no access to sunlight, kept her in isolation, as in this way he tortured her, which in turn hastened her death.

Ebru’s murderer is the judiciary in Turkey, which bowed its head and obeyed the orders of the fascist oligarchy. Among the murderers are judges from the 37th panel of the Istanbul Criminal Court. The murderer of Ebru is the members of the 16th panel of the criminal division of the Supreme Court of Cassation who, to show their loyalty to the fascist oligarchy, deliberately procrastinating the process and delaying its outcome for months without considering the case before them. Among the killers were the chief physician and the doctors at the hospital, who in violation of the Hippocratic Oath and professional ethics, kept Ebru against her will for days, and although she refused any treatment, isolated her and became complicit in her torturing.

The last moments of Ebru Timtik

At around 20:25(local time), on August 27, colleagues of lawyer Ebru Timtik announced on social networks that her heart had stopped, after which doctors began a medical intervention to revive her.

At 20:33, it was reported that the lawyer’s pulse had stopped and doctors began giving her a heart massage.

At 21:04, comrades of Ebru Timtik announced that she fell martyr, despite all attempts by doctors to revive her.

At around 22:30, information was received that the lawyer’s body had been taken to forensic medicine without her relatives and colleagues expressing such a wish. Throughout the night, the relatives, comrades, and colleagues of lawyer Ebru Timtik stayed in front of the building of the Forensic Medicine Institute in Istanbul. Tensions in front of the institute were high, with police attacking the people in the late hours. Several people were detained in the attack, including a member of the leftist music band Grup Yorum. The musicians from the band were among the people who came to advocate for the lawyer’s body. 

The funeral of Ebru Timtik – a battle with the fascist police so that she can be sent in her last path with dignity

According to the previously announced information, on August 28, the day after the martyrdom of lawyer Ebru Timtik, a ceremony in her memory was planned in front of the Istanbul Bar Association, after which her body was to be transported to the prayer house in the Gazi neighborhood, for her funeral. But the police did everything possible to prevent this and for this purpose abducted the body of the fallen lawyer.

On the morning of August 28, dozens of people gathered again in front of the forensic medicine institute’s building in Istanbul to pick up Ebru Timtik’s body. However, police abducted her body, forcing the hearse driver to drive directly to the prayer house in the Gazi neighborhood, rather than to the bar association’s building located in central Istanbul, as previously planned. People who tried to prevent the abduction of her body were attacked by police with rubber bullets. After disputes and clashes with the police, the people headed to the prayer house in the Gazi neighborhood.

Shortly after these events in front of the forensic medicine institute, dozens of people, including lawyers, opposition MPs, intellectuals, and musicians, gathered in front of the Istanbul Bar Association, located on Istiklal Blvd. in the city center. The commemoration ceremony took the form of readings of protest statements on behalf of bar associations, comrades of Ebru Timtik delivered speeches in her memory, as well as keeping a minute of silence.

The ceremony here passed without incidents, as the police who had surrounded the perimeter this time were satisfied only with observation and filming the participants in the event.

At noon, Ebru Timtik’s body arrived at the prayer house in Gazi neighborhood. The area around the prayer house was blocked by the police with armored vehicles, water cannons, metal fences, and a large number of officers from the riot police squad, while a police helicopter circled over the neighborhood. Initially, police allowed only Timtik’s relatives and several lawyers to enter the temple. Representatives of the progressive media and other lawyers who wanted to attend the funeral were not allowed by police. As a motive for the restrictions, the police chiefs pointed out the coronavirus pandemic, the people who came to attend the funeral rhetorically asked the police: “Oh, really you remember that there is such thing as a coronavirus?”. People’s dissatisfaction is fully justified because for events organized by the fascist oligarchy or its associates, restrictions on the social life due to the coronavirus pandemic and all other measures do not apply in practice and they can do whatever, when, and where they want.

After long disputes with the police, people who gathered on the streets around the prayer house were eventually allowed by the police to gather in the garden of the temple and to attend the funeral. Police have made it a condition that all journalists leave their cameras, otherwise they will not be allowed in the prayer house.

People gathered at the funeral ceremony chanted slogans such as “Ebru Timtik is immortal!”, “Aytaç Ünsal is our honor!”.

After all the rituals of preparation for the funeral ceremony had been performed, Ebru’s comrades placed on her coffin, her lawyer’s toga, a red flag, and red carnations.

After the funeral prayer, speeches were made by relatives and comrades of Ebru Timtik. The musicians from the left music band Grup Yorum and all those present performed traditional marches and songs, with which they once again paid tribute to the fallen lawyer.

Chanting slogans, Ebru’s comrades carried the coffin with her body on their shoulders to the hearse to be taken to the cemetery located near Gazi neighborhood. Ebru’s comrades, along with those present at the ceremony, tried to walk from the prayer house to the cemetery, but their path was blocked by police. The procession was attacked by police with tear gas grenades and rubber bullets. People responded to the attack by chanting the slogan: “Side by side against fascism!”. There is no information on the exact number of detainees in this attack, as it is assumed that 1 lawyer involved in the march was briefly detained by police.

The hearse marched to the cemetery without waiting for people to follow. People who wanted to send lawyer Ebru Timtik for the last time were forced to move to the cemetery on the side streets of Gazi neighborhood.

Lawyer Ebru Timtik was buried next to her mother Fatma. The burial of Timtik came under a complete police blockade.

Despite all the attacks, attempts to obstruct and pressure from the police, dozens stood up for Ebru Timtik and the fight for justice, sending her with honor on her last path.

How did Ebru Timtik’s comrades react?

Along with the reactions on social networks, the news of the death of lawyer Ebru Timtik caused a wide response among the immigrant community in Europe, as well as among the media, including those from the so-called Mainstream.

On February 28, less than 24 hours after the death of revolutionary lawyer Ebru Timtik, her comrades, members, and sympathizers of the People’s Front, staged protests in 15 different places in Western Europe.

There were protests in front of the Turkish consulates in Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Stuttgart. More than 160 people, most of them members and supporters of the People’s Front, as well as other leftist organizations, participated in these actions across Germany.

Protests took place in Austria in front of the embassy in the capital Vienna and the Turkish consulate in Salzburg. About 50 people took part in the events.

In Switzerland, 20 people took part in a protest in front of the Turkish consulate in Zurich.

60 people took part in the protests held in London, the capital of England, and 23 people who took part in the action in the capital of Belgium – Brussels.

Protests took place in three Greek cities following the death of Ebru Timtik. In the capital, Athens, a protest involving about 75 people were attacked by Greek police. In the city of Thessaloniki, the action in front of the Turkish consulate in the city was attacked by the police, and two members of the People’s Front were detained. Following the detention of the two members of the movement, a protest march was organized that evening against the repression in the city center, in which about 150 people took part.

The protests continued in the days following the martyrdom of the revolutionary lawyer, with hundreds of people expressing their anger against the fascist oligarchy in Turkey, in many countries across Europe.

In Turkey, the People’s Front, the People’s Law Bureau (Halkın Hukuk Bureau), where Ebru Timtik worked, and the Association of Progressive Lawyers (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği) issued declarations emphasizing the fact that the oligarchy is responsible for her death, as she died not because of starvation, but because of the deprivation of the right to a fair trial, and the lack of justice in the country. “She did not die, she was killed,” Ebru’s comrades said, “she was killed because the oligarchy did not accept the demand for a fair trial.”

In the first hours after the death of Ebru Timtik, her fellow political prisoners in the Silivri isolation complex near Istanbul set fire to their cells in protest of her actual murder. The fires caused varying degrees of damage to political prisoners who set fire to their cells, and there is no information that any of them are in danger of death.

Reactions of the opposition in Turkey: injustice killed her!

Following the death of Ebru Timtik, reactions from almost all opposition circles and groups in Turkey followed. The leftist opposition, the Halkların Demokratik Partisi-HDP, was the first to react, in a brief position, with the party saying it did not want new death and demanding the release of lawyer Aytaç Ünsal.

The other larger legal parties from the left opposition in the country also reacted with their written positions. The leitmotif in the positions of all leftist parties and organizations was that injustice was the real cause of Ebru Timtik’s death.

Representatives of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey also reacted to Timtik’s death. On Twitter, Leyla Guven, co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (Demokratik Toplum Kongresi), wrote: “#EbruTimtik I’m so sorry”

Saliha Aydeniz, the co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (Demokratik Bölgeler Partisi), tweeted: “Let the stars follow you.”

There were also reactions after the death of the revolutionary lawyer from human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği-İHD). The association’s co-chair, Eren Keskin, wrote on social media: “The pinnacle of injustice has been reached. Remember tomorrow you also may need justice. Do not be silent, but shout!”

The Association of the Families of Kurdish Political Prisoners, MED TUHAD-FED, responded with the following words to the news of Ebru Timtik’s death: “One person died only in the name of the right to a fair trial. Those responsible for this are those who destroyed the legal norms and did not want to hear the demand for a fair trial. We curse them!”

From Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi), only MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu expressed his position on the death of lawyer Timtik, wrote on Twitter: “The judges and doctors and the Supreme Court of Cassation who did not issue a decision to release Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, pity for all of you, very pity.”

Sezgin Tanrıkulu is known as a human rights defender and is therefore under attack by trolls and various accounts linked to fascist and Islamist organizations. However, he expressed outrage at the death of Ebru Timtik, something that his party did not do, even though it presents itself as an “alternative” to the ruling Justice and Development Party, led by President Erdogan.

Reactions in Europe and the World

The news of the death of the revolutionary lawyer Ebru Timtik appeared in many of the major mainstream world media such as Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, BBC, Washington Post, New York Post, Reuters, and others.

The European Union, through its External Action Service, issued an official written declaration after Timtik’s death, the text published on the EU’s official website reads as follows:

“The tragic outcome of their fight for a fair trial painfully illustrates the urgent need for the Turkish authorities to credibly address the human rights situation in the country, which has severely deteriorated in recent years, as well as serious shortcomings observed in the judiciary.

Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.”

The strained relations between the European imperialists and Turkey, which have conflicted in recent months, provoked by the struggle for the exploitation of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, may also have played a role in the publication of this statement. But whatever is the reason for this statement, it also shows the strength of the struggle led by lawyer Ebru Timtik and her comrades, namely that they have shown the world that there is no justice in Turkey for anyone but the oligarchy and its servants.


Lawyers’ organizations from almost all over Europe also reacted to the news of Timtik’s death, expressing their dissatisfaction with the loss of their colleagues through declarations, protest actions, commemorations, and other events.

Why Death Fast?

After the death of Ebru Timtik, they quite naturally asked the question of why the death hunger strike? Why did she resort to this extreme form of protest?

Below is a short speech by lawyer Ebru Titik delivered a few years ago, in which she explains why a hunger strike is being used as a method for struggle.

“Hunger strikes are not actions that are carried out to provoke the sympathy of those in power or to impress them. They are not impressed by such things. If you hear that a hunger strike is taking place somewhere, know that in that place the intellectuals, the people of art, the organized forces of the people have taken a few steps back, and now it is necessary for someone to do something more than usual. If the impact, the pressure that is expected to be exerted by a hunger strike, can be exerted by the mass democratic organizations, then there will be no need to go on a hunger strike. If you hear and see that hunger strikes are taking place in a certain place, or actions in which hunger is involved, then know that the society there is in a very bad situation. The hunger strikes are being carried out precisely to mobilize and make these avant-garde forces (leftist organizations) active. They are held to mobilize organized and avant-garde forces, which until then were silent and did not take any action. Hunger strikes are undertaken so that people can experience higher feelings, different from the fear they have been gripped by until then, through which a kind of appeal is made to the conscience of the people. “

This maybe is a good and short explanation, and it is fully in line with the situation of the leftist movement in Turkey over the last few years. We can supplement her words by adding that such a form of resistance also aims to expose the fascist oligarchy, to win specific rights and freedoms, to oppose the attempts to liquidate the revolutionaries and to clear the way for the struggle for the masses and its avant-garde forces.

The resistance managed to reunite the left movement in Turkey and show the importance and strength of international solidarity

Last but not least, we must note the impact of the Death Fast resistance on the leftist movement in Turkey and the progressive forces around the world.

In this particularly difficult period for the leftist movement in Turkey, the Death Fast resistance for justice once again reminded everyone the slogan “Side by side against fascism!”, at a time when this slogan was forgotten and the leftist movement was severely divided, much of the left and progressive forces in Turkey bring together and supported the demand for a fair trial raised by revolutionary lawyers. This slogan had become especially popular during and after the protests began in Gezi Park in Istanbul. The resistance managed to breathe new life into the revolutionary solidarity.

The Death Fast resistance also showed how important and necessary international solidarity is. The resistance has shown that the most powerful weapon of peoples around the world is solidarity between them.

Petition to accept the demands of the Death Fast resistance of lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal was signed by 1,273 intellectuals, artists, politicians, and journalists from Turkey, internationally it was supported by a total of 1,840 bar associations, lawyers, lawyers’ organizations from 40 countries.

In Turkey and 50 countries around the world, although thousands of professional and mass organizations, political parties, artists, and intellectuals from different ideological backgrounds, revolutionaries have united around the struggle for justice. The resistance showed them all, that the unity between the anti-imperialist, anti-fascist forces goes through a common struggle.

This Death Fast resistance set a precedent in the history of the revolutionary movement in Turkey, receiving international support on an unprecedented scale.

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