Updated: 09/10/2022 - 16:35

Acting as the representative and secretary for the Van Representative Office of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), Sevim Çiçek has been a part of the human rights movement for 25 years. She has continued to work within TIHV since 2018. She has faced many investigations and claims against her due to her involvement in union activities. On October 23rd, 2021, there were countrywide demonstrations organized by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) for Dr. Rümeysa Şen, who was killed in a traffic accident after leaving a long shift at work. Sevim Çiçek was detained along with Dr. Hüseyin Yaviç - the current Chairman of the Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber at the time - during the press statement that was meant to be held in front of the Van Yüzüncüyıl University Medical Faculty.

Professionaly trained as a nurse, Sevim Çiçek was born in the Pülümür district of Tunceli in 1977. With an awareness partly due to having witnessed a variety of human rights violations amongst many others in her hometown, she joined the Health and Social Work Labourers’ Union (SES) as a member in 1997. She acted as a board member for SES and was active in the Women’s Commission of the Confederation of Public Employee’s Union (KESK) during 1997-2008. During that time, she faced legal and administrative investigations for the many press statements, demonstrations, and activities that she was involved in. A large number of these investigations resulted in verdicts of non-prosecution. On November 25th, 2009, she was given a prison sentence of 1.5 years after a suit was brought against her for participating in a joint strike held by KESK and Kamu-Sen, but was released after the verdict. She faced a legal and administrative investigation after having joined a press statement at Eruh that was organized by KESK. As a result of the investigation, she was given a penalty of having her salary reduced by a fraction of 1/30. Meanwhile, the lawsuit lasted for four years and resulted in her acquittal. 

Çiçek has been working at the Van Representative Office of TİHV since January 13th, 2018. She has taken part in the work done by the Ahtamara Women’s Platform in 2017. She is a member of the Van Branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Van Environmental and Historical Artifacts Preservation Association (ÇEVDER). She has been actively working at the Van Women’s Platform since Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention in 2021.

The process that resulted in her facing a lawsuit began when Dr. Rümeysa Şen was killed in a traffic accident while going home after a shift of 36 hours on October 23rd, 2021. There were countrywide press statements being held after a call by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). The press statement in Van was planned to take place in front of the Yüzüncüyıl University Medical Faculty on October 25th, 2021. When the participants arrived in front of the university, they saw that the police had taken extraordinary measures. Despite negotiations, they were prohibited from having the press statement based on the governorship’s ban on demonstrations and activities. Hüseyin Yaviç, the Chairman of the Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber at that time, and Sevim Çiçek were detained. They endured maltreatment by the police officer while in custody at the police station. The memorial and press statement in question was held in nearly all cities from east to west of Turkey, and it was only banned in Van. Yaviç and Çiçek were released after their statements were taken at the police station.

They were later charged with “defiance of Law no. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations”. The first hearing of the trial took place at the Van 4th Criminal Court of First Instance on May 26th, 2022 - the 2013th day of the demonstration ban in Van. The next hearing will be held on October 18th, 2022.