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Turkey

    October 26, 2017

    After more than 100 days in prison, Amnesty’s Director in Turkey, Idil Eser – and all of the “Istanbul 10” - have been released!  They were imprisoned in July on entirely baseless terror charges, as part of a widespread crackdown in Turkey. 

    Thank you to the incredible efforts of human rights supporters around the world who spoke out in so many ways to help bring about this uplifting news. Had they been convicted, they could have faced jail terms up to 15 years.

    Amnesty supporters all over the world have been campaigning for the release of all 11 human rights defenders since their arrests in June and July, through meetings with government officials, rallies, letter writing, public demonstrations, and high profile figures calling for their release. It has been a remarkable period of solidarity and action.

    October 26, 2017

    Following a decision by an Izmir court not to release human rights defender, Taner Kılıç, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Over the last 24 hours we have seen the twin hands of Turkey's fickle justice system at play. While one grants liberty, the other, confronted with no less baseless charges, takes it away.”

    “The release of the Istanbul 10 late last night restored some faith in Turkey's justice system. Today, that faith has been washed away.

    “Turkish authorities have repeatedly and publicly presumed Taner Kılıç’s guilt, on the basis of innuendo and unsupported allegations.

    “We will continue undaunted to campaign for the release of our chair and the dropping of the charges against all human rights defenders in Turkey.

    BACKGROUND

    The judge accepted the prosecutor's application to join Taner's case with the case against the 10 human rights defenders arrested at a workshop outside Istanbul on the tenuous grounds that he was aware of the preparations for the meeting and in contact with Amnesty International Turkey director İdil Eser about her attendance at it.

     

    October 25, 2017

    Campaigners vow to continue fight to free Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair

    Following a decision by a court in Istanbul to conditionally release eight human rights defenders while their trial continues, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Today, finally, we celebrate that our friends and colleagues can go back with their loved ones and can sleep in their own beds for the first time in almost four months.

    “But any joy is tainted by the ongoing detention of Amnesty International's chair, Taner Kılıç, whose separate trial is due to start tomorrow.

    “These politically motivated prosecutions are an attempt to silence critical voices within Turkey but have only served to highlight the importance of human rights and those who dedicate their lives to defending them.

    “Tonight we take a brief moment to celebrate, but tomorrow we will continue our struggle to ensure that Taner, İdil and their colleagues are acquitted of these baseless charges. We will not stop until the charges are dropped and all of them are free.”

    BACKGROUND

    October 24, 2017
    Trumped up terror charges against the Istanbul 10 exposed Forensic analysis shows Amnesty Chair did not download Bylock Spokespeople available on the ground for trials on October 25 & 26

    Click here to follow the trial on Twitter

    Trumped up terror charges against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director and chair, do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny, said Amnesty International as court proceedings begin in Istanbul and Izmir.

    The charges against them - carrying jail terms of up to 15 years and set out in two indictments to be heard in two separate trials – are entirely baseless.

    “From the moment of their detentions, it has been clear that these are politically motivated prosecutions aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    October 18, 2017
    European Parliament President calls for release of Amnesty Turkey Director Spokespeople available

    Ahead of the 19-20 October European Council meeting, which is expected to issue conclusions on Turkey, Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:

    “EU leaders must publicly condemn the brutal and protracted crackdown on human rights defenders and journalists in Turkey, and stand firmly on the side of human rights. They must call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey, including our colleagues.”

    Amnesty International yesterday held a birthday party for its Turkey Director Idil Eser in the European Parliament. This was joined by a number of MEPs, including the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Antonio Panzeri and the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani who both called for her release.

    October 17, 2017

    Baseless allegations against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director and chair, should have been rejected in their entirety, said Amnesty International after an Istanbul court accepted the indictment today.

    “This indictment fails to provide a shred of incriminating evidence to substantiate the trumped up terrorism charges it contains. In accepting this indictment the Istanbul Court has missed a golden opportunity to bring this grotesque miscarriage of justice to a halt,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “This is politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing the work of some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders. It beggars belief that anyone who has read the fantastical allegations laid out in the indictment could see it in any other way.”

    For more information or to arrange an interview contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    October 13, 2017
    Idil Eser

    Since July 2017 our friend and colleague İdil Eser has been held in the highest security area of the highest security prison in Turkey.

    İdil, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained along with nine others during a workshop in Istanbul. It came only a month after Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained. Currently eight imprisoned and two bailed defenders are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorirst organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    İdil has written a letter from her prison cell after a massive global response demanding their release. It’s a message of thanks, hope and courage.

    12 September 2017, Silivri Prison No. 9

    I would like to thank the entire Amnesty International movement. I send my heartfelt thanks to the International Secretariat, the [Amnesty Turkey] board, campaigners, people who have supported us with their signatures, and especially my colleagues who continue their work with self-sacrifice.

    October 13, 2017

    Veli Acu was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul in Turkey, where he was training human rights defenders from different organisations, including Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. They are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorist organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    Veli has written a letter from prison about his life and experiences which led him to a career defending human rights:

    “According to my identity documents, I was born on 1 January 1998 in Siirt/Şirvan. Only the province and district names are correct - all the rest including the day, month and year were written on the initiative of the register officer.

    I am one of the eleven children of my illiterate parents, both nomadic Kurdish people who spent the hot summer days on the highlands. When I was four or five, security forces came to our village and wanted us to evacuate it, citing some reasons whose meanings I fully understood only at university. In reality, the main reason was that famous word: “security.” Later I came to know that whenever someone utters this word nothing good would follow.

    October 13, 2017

    Günal Kurşun was detained along with nine others from Turkey’s foremost human rights organisations in July, as they took part in a workshop together. Among them was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. They are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorist organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    Günal has been separated from his young son Ali Berk since then. In September he was allowed to speak to him by phone for 5 minutes, and told him that he misses him a lot and that he has forgotten his smell. A few days later he was finally able to see his son in an open visit. He gave Ali Berk some chocolate that he had bought and they played. Günal has written 10 children’s stories for Ali Berk during his long and unfair imprisonment.

    Günal has also written a letter from prison giving an insight into his life and why he feels it is so important to live by human rights principles:

    “I was born on 5 September 1975 in Ankara. My father is a military judge who retired as a colonel in 2004, and my mother is a soprano singer/pianist. I have one brother, Mete.

    October 12, 2017
    Human Rights Defenders from Turkey who are in prison

    Today marks 100 days since Turkish security forces stormed a routine training workshop and bundled away 10 prominent human rights activists. Most of the group - dubbed the Istanbul 10 - have been locked-up in Turkey’s highest security prison.

    This week the prosecutor filed an indictment calling for the group, which includes a German and Swedish trainer and the director of Amnesty International Turkey, to be sentenced for up to 15 years on terrorism charges.

    The absurdity of the charges against them and the reasons they are being held in prison will leave you incredulous.

    So much for a “secret meeting”

    Turkish prosecutors have attempted to depict the meeting as a shadowy gathering of conspirators seeking to create “chaos in society”, BUT…

    1. This was not a secret meeting ... Many people from lots of organisations had been openly invited.

    October 12, 2017
    Stars of stage and screen have added their voices to the global demand for the immediate and unconditional release of a group of prominent human rights defenders in Turkey, one hundred days after they were detained.   More than 20 artists and celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, Whoopi Goldberg and Zach Galifianakis, signed a letter sent by Amnesty International USA to the Turkish ambassador. They join a host of other celebrities including Annie Lennox, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Angélique Kidjo, and Patrick Stewart, who have called for the release of the activists that include Amnesty International’s Turkey Director, İdil Eser, and Chair, Taner Kiliç.   Ten activists were arrested on 5 July whilst Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. On 4 October a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd and trumped up terrorism charges.  
    October 09, 2017
    ·         Taner Kiliç added to indictment of Istanbul 10 ·         Charges against the 10 increased to include “membership of a terrorist organisation”   Responding to news that a prosecutor has filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 16 years on terror charges for 11 human rights activists including İdil Eser and Taner Kiliç, the director and chair of Amnesty International Turkey, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director said: “This outrageous indictment contains no new evidence but instead repeats absurd allegations against some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders. “These brave activists have languished in jail for months on end for no reason other than their belief in human rights. For them to have spent even day behind bars is a gross injustice.
    October 03, 2017

    Peter Steudtner was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul, where he and Ali Gharavi were training human rights defenders on wellbeing and digital security. Among the attendees was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. Currently eight of them remain in prison and two are on bail, all facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. They have done nothing wrong.

    Peter has written a message from his cell about coping with life in prison:



    "To all who accompany me in thought and deed!

    A wholehearted thankyou to all who support us, especially to my family and friends (and all who support them), to the German government, Ministries, Embassy, Consulate; to my legal team, and to my holistic security team, HIVOS + KURVE Wustrow, to all political campaigns that demand our release!

    As I do not have any contact anymore with Ali and the other human rights defenders, I am writing this letter on my behalf only.

    October 03, 2017

    In July 2017, our friend and colleague İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, was detained along with nine other human rights defenders in Istanbul. Currently eight of them are in prison and two are on bail, all are facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. Yet they have done nothing wrong.

    It came only a month after Amnesty Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained, also unfairly. He remains in prison.

    On 14 October 2017, Amnesty will hold a global day of action demanding their release to coincide with Idil’s birthday.

    So why is this happening to them?

    What happened on 5 July 2017?

    It should have been an ordinary day for İdil Eser, director of Amnesty Turkey. She was attending a workshop on wellbeing and digital security with colleagues from other human rights organisations in Istanbul – the kind of gathering that takes place around the world every week. It included open discussions about the stresses they encounter and practical ways of dealing with these.

    But during the workshop police raided the building and detained them all, including the two workshop trainers.

    July 31, 2017
      Tanya O'Carroll is a technology and human rights adviser at Amnesty International. Follow Tanya on Twitter @TanyaOCarroll    When the colleagues of Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner heard that they had been detained in Turkey, along with representatives of six renowned Turkish NGOs, they assumed there had been a misunderstanding. Ali, a Swedish IT strategy consultant, and Peter, a German nonviolence and wellbeing trainer, had been in Istanbul delivering a routine workshop, as they had done many times before in countries as far afield as Mexico and Pakistan. This was the first time their work had landed them in a police station.   But the detention of the two trainers was no accident. After 12 days in police custody, both men were remanded in prison along with four others including İdil Eser, the director of Amnesty Turkey. They are facing absurd and baseless allegations of terror links, and lengthy pre-trial detentions.   

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