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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 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.

    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. 

     Background

    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
      Refugees, Greek islanders and activists today called on European leaders to heed their plight in a flash mob on a beach on the island of Lesvos symbolising the spirit of “refugees welcome”, organized by Amnesty International and Lesvos Solidarity.   The #ActionLesvos flash mob wrapped a giant fishing net with an EU flag on it around 60 refugees and activists to represent the situation of refugees and migrants trapped on the Greek islands by the EU-Turkey deal.   The flash mob comes after a week of protests in the nearby Moria camp and 10 days before the majority of the EU emergency funding for NGOs supporting refugees in Greece runs out.   “This is a protest against the EU-Turkey deal, which has been trapping people on Lesvos since 2016. Refugees are not criminals. We fled our countries because of hate and came to Europe to seek our freedom, but now we are stuck on the island. We have no option and no hope,” said Hamid Hamid, a refugee activist from Ghana, currently living in Greece, who is one of the activists taking part in the camp and came up with the concept.
    July 18, 2017

    ·         Press conference and analysis of absurd charges - 1pm London

     The remanding of six human rights defenders in pre-trial custody is an appalling affront to justice and a new low in Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, said Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International Turkey’s Director, Idil Eser who was among those remanded in custody, was detained alongside nine other human rights defenders on 5 July whilst attending a routine workshop. Four of them were released on bail in the early hours of this morning but are still under investigation. All ten are suspected of ‘committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member'. The six who were remanded in custody join Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kiliç, behind bars. 

    “Turkish prosecutors have had 12 days to establish the obvious: that these ten activists are innocent. The decision to proceed shows that truth and justice have become total strangers in Turkey,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    July 14, 2017

    We are dismayed and appalled by the arrest and detention of ten human rights defenders by the Turkish government, now facing investigation for membership of an “armed terrorist organisation” on account of their peaceful human rights work.

    As an attack on six of the most prominent human rights NGOs in the country, the arrests are a hammer blow to Turkey's besieged civil society and an ominous indicator of the direction Turkey is heading in.

    The “Istanbul 10” are Veli Acu, Özlem Dalkıran, İdil Eser, Nalan Erkem, Günal Kurşun, Şeymus Özbekli, Nejat Taştan, İlknur Üstün (Turkish nationals), Ali Gharavi (Swedish national) and Peter Steudtner (German national). The arrest of İdil Eser, director of Amnesty International Turkey, follows that of the organisation’s chair Taner Kılıç a month ago – the first time that a director and chair of Amnesty International have been detained in the same country at the same time. We call on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all of them.

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