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    March 31, 2020

    Photo ©Anadolu Agency / Getty Images


    Amid growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Turkey’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, the health and lives of prisoners and staff are at increased risk. The Turkish government is preparing a draft law that will reportedly lead to the release of up to 100,000 prisoners. However, it would exclude those who have been imprisoned unfairly under anti-terror laws simply for exercising their rights, including journalists, human rights defenders, and people in pre-trial detention.

    Amid growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, the serious health threats that the overcrowding and unsanitary facilities already pose to Turkey’s prison population of nearly 300,000 prisoners and about tens of thousands of prison staff, will be seriously exacerbated. This is putting the health and lives of prisoners and staff at serious risk. 

    March 04, 2020

    Ahead of a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Moscow tomorrow (Thursday 5 March) to discuss the escalating military conflict in Idlib in Syria, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The Moscow summit represents an opportunity for Russia and Turkey to prioritize the safety of civilians.

    “The fate of almost one million people forced from their homes now hangs in the balance as this meeting goes ahead.

    “After nine years of fighting characterized by utter disregard for civilians’ lives, new attacks in Idlib - including the ongoing targeting of schools and hospitals - is causing more untold misery to civilians, many of whom have already been forced to flee multiple times in this humanitarian horror story.

    “As a matter of priority, Russia and Turkey should pressure the Syrian government to end attacks on civilians to avoid escalating deaths and injuries and further displacement.

    February 28, 2020

    Following reports that Turkey is allowing asylum-seekers to depart its territory and attempt to enter the European Union particularly Greece and Bulgaria, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director, Massimo Moratti, said: 

    “What we are seeing now at Turkey’s land and sea borders with the EU is that people seeking asylum are once again being used as bargaining chips in a deadly political game, a predictable consequence of the EU-Turkey deal. 

    “EU member states need to do far more to share responsibility for refugees arriving in Turkey, both through financial support and ensuring safe pathways to Europe.

    February 18, 2020

    The decision to detain Osman Kavala on new charges merely hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and he must be immediately set free, said Amnesty International.

    “This decision smacks of deliberate and calculated cruelty. To have been granted release after almost two-and-a-half years behind bars only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is a devastating blow for Osman Kavala, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey,” said Milena Buyum Amnesty International Turkey Campaigner.

    “This latest episode of malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Osman Kavala and those of his family who were waiting to welcome him into their arms.

    “This cynical and outrageous re-detention only deepens our resolve to continue to fight on Osman Kavala’s behalf. It is time for Turkey to end the relentless crackdown on dissenting voices. Osman Kavala must be immediately released from prison and the witch hunt against him ended.”

    February 18, 2020

    Following the acquittal of Osman Kavala and eight other defendants in the so-called ‘Gezi trial’, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner, Milena Buyum said:

    “Today’s decision is hugely welcome and confirms what has been clear to the entire world for more than two years.

    “The only just verdict in this baseless case, devoid of any substance, was always going to be the wholesale acquittal of those who stood trial, but in today’s Turkey this was far from guaranteed.

    “After almost two and a half years in prison, it is wonderful that Osman Kavala will finally walk free. While the injustice of his lengthy incarceration cannot be erased, this remains a huge relief for civil society in Turkey.

    “Today’s judgement was a touchstone for Turkish justice and we hope it signals a shift in political climate in the country and brings to an end these politically motivated prosecutions. We also hope this decision bodes well ahead of tomorrow’s critical verdict for 11 human rights activists, including former Amnesty leaders, who face sentences of up to 15 years.

    February 18, 2020
    Eyes of the world on Istanbul as verdict expected after two-and-a-half years Celebrities and politicians join two million people to demand justice High-level Amnesty International delegation to hear verdict against their former Turkey chair and former director

    A verdict is expected tomorrow in the cases of 11 human rights defenders, including the former leadership and several members of Amnesty Turkey, who have spent more than two-and-a-half years fighting trumped-up charges and could face up to 15 years behind bars if found guilty. 

    Ahead of the hearing, which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul, Amnesty International said only acquittal of all could deliver justice for the 11 activists arrested in the summer of 2017 on baseless terrorism charges. Amnesty Turkey’s former Chair, Taner Kılıç, former Director, Idil Eser, and several other members of Amnesty Turkey are among the human rights defenders on trial.

    January 27, 2020
    Amnesty spokespeople in court and available for interview

    Ahead of tomorrow’s third hearing in the trial of civil society leader Osman Kavala and 15 others on trumped up charges of ‘attempting to overthrow the government’, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner, Milena Buyum said:

    “This prosecution is a shameful attempt to silence independent civil society and part of a wider ongoing crackdown on rights defenders.

    Osman Kavala should not have spent a single minute behind bars let alone more than two years in pre-trial detention.

    “He, and 15 others, are facing spurious accusations devoid of any evidence that they were involved in any criminal activity, let alone conspiring to overthrow the government.”

    “He must be immediately and unconditionally released from jail and the charges against him and the 15 other civil society figures dropped.

    “A month after the European Court of Human Rights called on Turkey to release Osman Kavala immediately, every passing day he spends behind bars further compounds the violation of his rights.

    November 27, 2019

    Following a request by the State Prosecutor for the conviction of Amnesty Turkey’s honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, former director İdil Eser and four other human rights defenders on terrorism-related charges, Marie Struthers Europe, Director for Amnesty International, said: 

    “Today’s vindictive request by the State Prosecutor for jail terms of up to 15 years ignores the evidence and defies all logic.

    “The terrorist allegations made against Taner, İdil and four others have been repeatedly disproven over the course of nine previous hearings and it is clear today, as it has been from the start, that the Istanbul 10 and Taner are on trial for nothing more than their human rights work. They must be acquitted.”

    If convicted, they risk up to 15 years imprisonment. The next, and presumably final trial hearing, is set to take place on 19 February 2020.

    October 31, 2019

    Hundreds of people have been detained in Turkey for commenting or reporting on Turkey’s recent military offensive in northeast Syria and are facing absurd criminal charges as the government intensifies its crackdown on critical voices, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    ‘We can’t complain’ reveals how last month’s offensive – Operation Peace Spring - was accompanied by a wave of repression in Turkey which swept up anyone who deviated from the government’s official line. Journalists, social media users and protesters have been accused of “terrorism” and subjected to criminal investigation, arbitrary detention and travel bans. If prosecuted and found guilty, they could face lengthy prison sentences.

    “As the tanks rolled across the Syrian border, the government took the opportunity to launch a domestic campaign to eradicate dissenting opinions from media, social media and the streets. Critical discussion on issues of Kurdish rights and politics has become even further off limits,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Marie Struthers.

    October 29, 2019

    Pride celebration by Middle East Technical University students, May 2018 © ODTU LGBTI+

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 144/19 HERE UPDATE of 6 March 2020: The next hearing in the trial is set for 12 March 2020. The calls to action remain the same.

    Eighteen students and one academic from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara who are facing criminal charges for allegedly joining an LGBTI Pride Parade on the university’s campus on 10 May 2019. The trial will start on 12 November. Some of those on trial have stated that they did not participate in the parade and were simply bystanders. No one should be prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Charges against all 19 individuals must be dropped.

    October 24, 2019

    Turkey spent the months leading up to its military incursion into northeast Syria forcibly deporting refugees to the war-torn country, in advance of attempting to create a so-called “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border, a new Amnesty International report ‘Sent to a War Zone: Turkey’s Illegal Deportations Of Syrian Refugees’ has revealed.

    The organization met or spoke with refugees who said Turkish police had beaten or threatened them into signing documents stating they were asking to return to Syria, when in reality Turkey was forcing them back to a war zone and putting their lives in grave danger.

    “Turkey’s claim that refugees from Syria are choosing to walk straight back into the conflict is dangerous and dishonest. Rather, our research shows that people are being tricked or forced into returning,” said Anna Shea, Researcher on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    July 17, 2019

    Following the acquittal of two prominent human rights defenders and a writer prosecuted for participating in a solidarity campaign for a Kurdish daily newspaper, Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner said: 

    “It is a relief that this ordeal for Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin is finally over. After almost three years of a baseless prosecution, these three human rights defenders, who stood up for press freedom by expressing solidarity with persecuted journalists, have finally been acquitted.

    “It was clear from the start that this case should never have seen the light of day. The absurd charges levelled against them, and scores of others who also took part in the solidarity campaign, were clearly intended to silence and intimidate rights defenders, journalists, and wider civil society in Turkey.

    July 02, 2019

    Reacting to the news that Istanbul Pride march participants who were demonstrating peacefully were attacked with tear gas and plastic bullets by police, Amnesty International's Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:

    “An entirely peaceful Istanbul Pride has yet again been tainted by the shocking unwarranted actions of the police who attacked groups of Pride participants. The wanton use of tear gas and plastic bullets in this context is completely unacceptable and further compounds the unlawful ban LGBTI people and their allies have been subjected to.

    “In a blatant attack on freedom of expression, Amnesty International’s representatives monitoring the Pride event received allegations that police announced that people in ‘inappropriate’ dress would be detained.

    “We are dismayed at the news that people have been arbitrarily detained by police simply because of their participation in Istanbul pride. They must be immediately and unconditionally released and an urgent investigation into the use of excessive force must be launched.”


    June 28, 2019
    50 years after the Stonewall riots, thousands expected to brave tear gas and plastic bullets to defy discriminatory ban Spokespeople will attend the event and are available for interview

    The Istanbul Pride march will take place on Sunday 30 June in spite of a decision by the Governorate of Istanbul to ban the celebrations. 

    "Fifty years ago today, LGBTI+ people took to the streets outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City to fight against bigotry and prejudice - and they won. On Sunday, thousands will take to the streets of Istanbul, defying an unlawful ban and possibly braving plastic bullets, teargas and police batons, to celebrate Pride,” said Sara Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    June 01, 2019

    Think a keyboard can stop torture?

    Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on May 24 to protect 44 adults and 3 children. The group had been scooped during police raids after a violent clash between security forces and the armed PKK. In custody at the police’s anti-terrorism branch in Urfa province, the detainees sustained head injuries and cuts and bruises from repeated kicks and punches. Hours after our appeals began arriving in Turkey, the torture stopped. Police began treating the detainees with more respect and the detainees felt more secure.

    Children were among 22 individuals who have now been released. Others have been transferred to prison where further ill-treatment is unlikely. Amnesty International has sent a letter to the Minister of Justice to call for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment experienced by the detainees.

    Learn more about the Urgent Action Network here.



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