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    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.   
    July 28, 2017
      In response to the court’s ruling earlier this evening to conditionally release seven of the 12 imprisoned Cumhuriyet staff and the continuation of the pre-trial detention of five others, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia, said: “While the news of the release of seven Cumhuriyet journalists and others, is a positive step forward, we are dismayed at the continued imprisonment of Ahmet Şık, Kadri Gürsel, Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu. “The hearing so far has made it glaringly apparent that this indictment lacks any credible evidence. Strikingly, it mentions the word 'news' more than 600 times. Plain and simple, this is journalism on trial.   Background: The trial of the 17 Cumhuriyet journalists, executives and lawyers, of whom 12 have been held in pre-trial detention since last year, began on Monday 24 July in Istanbul.   The court also ruled to lift the restrictions on meetings between those imprisoned and their lawyers, which have been limited to an hour per week.
    July 28, 2017
      ‘The global outcry over Turkey’s human rights crackdown is growing louder by the day’ - Kate Allen   Amnesty International has welcomed a call from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for the release of detained Turkish human rights activists - including Idil Eser, Amnesty’s Turkey Director, and TanerKiliç, Amnesty’s Turkey Chair.   Speaking at an event in Sydney, Australia, last night Mr Johnson said he ‘deplored’ the actions of the Turkish authorities in arresting human rights activists, including Amnesty campaigners. In a lecture at the Lowy Institute, the Foreign Secretary said:
    July 25, 2017
      Responding to statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu at a press conference following his meeting with High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen said:   “Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement by the Foreign Minister that Amnesty International are regarded as “a credible global organization”, his assertion that we will be “able to conduct activities freely” is a bold claim in light of the fact that both the Director and the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey are languishing behind bars alongside seven other human rights activists.”   “The absurd case against Idil Eser is not based on any nefarious activities but instead rests entirely upon the legitimate work of Amnesty International. If this work is criminalised, it is hard to see how the organization – or indeed the wider human rights movement in Turkey – can continue to function.  
    July 25, 2017
      ·         Salil Shetty meets Mogherini ahead of her meeting with Turkey Ministers ·         Major public stunt demands end to human rights crackdown ·         “For me this is personal” - partner of jailed activist speaks out   Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, urged the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, to urgently raise the issue of jailed human rights defenders at her meeting with the Turkish Foreign Affairs and EU Ministers later today. Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç are currently in detention facing terrorism related charges.  
    July 24, 2017

    Responding to news that the Turkish authorities have issued detention orders against four human rights defenders released on bail on Tuesday, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe said:

    “With this cruel and retrograde step, Turkey has underlined its growing reputation as an indiscriminate jailer of civil society activists and a stranger to the rule of law.”  

    One of the four, Nalan Erkem was detained from her house in Istanbul last night. A second, İlknur Üstün was detained from her home in Ankara today. 

    “These four people should never have been detained in the first place. Having already endured twelve days behind bars, they are forced to relive the ordeal yet again. Instead of dropping the baseless investigation, the Turkish authorities have raised their absurdity to fresh heights,” said John Dalhuisen.

    The four human rights defenders will now join their six co-suspects behind bars, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey. 


    July 24, 2017
      ·         Salil Shetty to meet Mogherini ahead of her meeting with Turkey Minister ·         Major public stunt will demand end to human rights crackdown ·         Partners of two of the jailed activists available for interview in Brussels   Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will urge High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini to urgently raise the issue of jailed human rights defenders - including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç - at her meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister tomorrow.  
    July 21, 2017

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty Canada Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty.

    As a human rights advocate you know you will not make everyone happy. Government officials, military leaders, armed groups and businesses all attract your scrutiny, criticism and suggestions for improvement. Some act on the advice. Others ignore it. Some strenuously disagree.

    Public debate can get heated. The recent exchanges around Omar Khadr’s case are a striking reminder of that. Even in Canada, leading Amnesty International, I’ve felt that heat. I’ve been insulted and called names. I’ve been rebuffed. I’ve been threatened.

    But no matter how inflamed things have become, I’ve never been jailed for standing up for human rights.

    My close colleague Idil Eser, who does my job in Turkey, heading up our national section there, has been jailed for doing just that. She has been behind bars for the past two weeks because she passionately defends human rights; in Turkey and around the world.


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