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Turkey

    May 22, 2019

    In response to a decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to reject an application by civil society leader Osman Kavala to end his continued pre-trial detention on the grounds that it is in violation of his human rights, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:

    “Today’s inexplicable decision by Turkey’s highest court rubs salt into the wound of injustice. Osman Kavala’s rights have been abused. He should not have spent a single day behind bars, let alone nearly 600 days. The charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.”

    “The outlandish allegations against Osman Kavala are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence one of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures.

    “Yet again, following a decision earlier this month to reject the applications of jailed journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, the Constitutional Court’s decision has prolonged the detention of someone who should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

    May 10, 2019

    Reacting to the news that a Pride march organized by students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara has been violently broken up by police and 25 students arrested, Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is heartbreaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained. Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.”

    “Amnesty International condemns the police intervention to break up this celebration of pride on the METU campus today. It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality.

    All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    May 07, 2019

    Following news that the planned student Pride march at the Middle East Technical University (METU) will not be allowed to take place by the university’s rectorate, Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Europe said:

    “For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people. It is celebration of love which sends a message of hope to all those struggling to uphold fundamental rights in Turkey and beyond.

    “Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia. The Rectorate must reverse its decision and allow students without fear of intimidation or violence.”

    Background

    The march was scheduled to take place on 10 March.

    Turkish authorities must ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and their allies are able to enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and assembly without fear of intimidation or violence.

    May 01, 2019

    Professor Füsun Üstel, renowned for her academic work on citizenship and nationalism, is expected to start her 15 month prison sentence within the next few days. Professor Üstel is the first academic to go to prison simply for signing the peace petition headlined “We will not be party to this crime”. Hundreds of other “Academics for Peace” are on trial accused of ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ and risk imprisonment. In 124 cases, prosecutors or courts have requested the permission of the Minister of Justice for the signatories to be tried also under Article 301 of the penal code that criminalizes ‘denigrating the Turkish nation’.

    March 20, 2019
    Amnesty International delegation to attend trial of organization’s Turkey honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, and the Istanbul 10, including former Amnesty Turkey director Idil Eser 

    Almost two years after they were first arrested, two prominent figures from Amnesty International Turkey and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted of the absurd charges they still face, said Amnesty International ahead of their trial which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 

    Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and İdil Eser, the organization’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other activists on baseless allegations of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.  

    February 27, 2019

     Leading NGOs in Turkey have come together to call for the dropping of absurd allegations levelled against Osman Kavala and 15 other prominent figures and an end to the escalating crackdown and criminalization of civil society.

    The open letter, signed by the organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and eight other NGOs, calls for an end to the orchestrated campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment of civil society activists in Turkey.

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

    FULL TEXT OF LETTER

    We stand united against efforts to destroy civil society

    February 20, 2019

    In response to news that an indictment has been sent to the court setting out the case against Osman Kavala and 15 civil society figures for “attempting to overthrow the government”, Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner said:

    “These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system.”

    “Almost six years after the Gezi Park protests saw tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against state repression, this indictment - if accepted by the court - could see the accused facing a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole.”

    “The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to the decision of a Turkish first instance appeals court to uphold the conviction of journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.

    “The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    Background

    December 05, 2018
    Official figures reveal that at least 52 workers have died on site as mass trial gets underway

    Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release 31 construction workers who have already spent two months in jail simply for protesting unsafe working conditions on the site of Istanbul’s third airport, said Amnesty International as a mass trial gets underway.

    Just days after the official figures revealed that there have been 52 fatal work accidents on the site between 2013 and 2018, 61 workers and trade unionists are in court today. They are facing numerous charges in the context of a protest on 14 September 2018. 31 of these workers have been remanded in prison pending trial.

    “By detaining and prosecuting these workers who were simply calling for dignified and safe working conditions, the Turkish authorities are sending out a message that anyone who attempts to stand up for their rights will be punished,” said Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner.

    November 20, 2018

    Responding to today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Turkey’s repeated extensions to the pre-trial detention of opposition leader Selahattin Demirtaş, were politically motivated and violated Articles 5(3) and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights and were “stifling pluralism and freedom of political debate”, Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said: 

    “This ruling by Europe's top human rights court should have far-reaching implications within the country where civil society actors are routinely remanded in prolonged pre-trial detention under trumped up charges. It exposes the pernicious and undue influence of politics in Turkey’s broken judicial system, in which the peaceful expression of opinions and political dissent are punished through the courts.

    “As a member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey is bound by the Court’s rulings. The authorities must implement the Court’s decision and immediately release Selahattin Demirtaş from his prolonged and unlawful pre-trial detention.”  

    November 16, 2018

    Responding to today’s detention of 13 civil society figures in Turkey in connection with the investigation into jailed civil society leader Osman Kavala, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “This latest wave of detentions of academics and activists, on the basis of absurd allegations, shows that the authorities are intent on continuing their brutal crackdown of independent civil society, and shatters any illusion that Turkey is normalizing following the lifting of the state of emergency.

    “The fact that they have been detained in relation to innocuous activities alleged around the overwhelmingly peaceful ‘Gezi Park’ protests in 2013 shows how desperate Turkish authorities are to crack down on any form of dissent.

    November 07, 2018

    Responding to the decision by an Istanbul court to further postpone the trial of Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, former Director, İdil Eser, and nine other human rights defenders, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager said:

    “The farce continues for these human rights defenders who are facing absurd terrorism charges. The ridiculous allegations that the Istanbul 10 participated in a secret and subversive meeting has been proven to be entirely untrue in previous hearings. It boggles the mind that the authorities are yet to analyse the digital devices seized when they were first arrested almost a year-and-a-half ago.

    “The trial has now been heard in six separate hearings. Dragging out proceedings in politically motivated cases is nothing new. It is a deliberate tactic forcing innocent human rights defenders to suffer a tortuous wait with the threat of conviction under terrorism charges hanging over their heads.

    November 06, 2018
    High level delegation to attend trial of Amnesty’s Turkey chair, Taner Kılıç, and the Istanbul 10 

    Almost a year-and-a-half after they were first arrested, and still facing absurd charges, Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, former Director and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted, said Amnesty International as their trial resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 

    Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and İdil Eser, the organisation’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other human rights defenders on baseless allegations of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.  

    October 24, 2018

    More than two years after being arbitrarily dismissed, almost 130,000 Turkish public sector workers are still awaiting justice and facing an uncertain future, Amnesty International said in a report published today.  

    Purged beyond return? No remedy for Turkey’s dismissed public sector workers reveals that doctors, police officers, teachers, academics and tens of thousands of other public sector workers dismissed from their jobs for alleged “links to terror groups” are yet to be reinstated or compensated, while the Commission set up to review dismissal decisions is woefully unfit for purpose.  

    “Branded as ‘terrorists’ and stripped of their livelihoods, tens of thousands of people who have had their professional and family lives shattered are still awaiting justice,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager.  

    October 18, 2018

    Saudi, Turkish Cooperation Essential to Credibility

    (New York, October 18, 2018) – Turkey should urgently ask UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a United Nations investigation into the possible extrajudicial execution of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Reporters Without Borders said today.

    The investigation should determine the circumstances surrounding Saudi Arabia’s role in the enforced disappearance and possible killing of Khashoggi. It should aim to identify everyone responsible for ordering, planning, and executing any operations connected with the case.

    “Turkey should enlist the UN to initiate a timely, credible, and transparent investigation” said Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “UN involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh.”

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