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Turkey

    June 04, 2018

    By Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for Europe

    To be forgotten. People who have been wrongfully imprisoned say the fear of being forgotten is one of their biggest worries in prison. 

    The chilling fear that eventually, nobody will care about what happens to them. A creeping anxiety that they will languish in captivity, while the world outside slowly forgets their very existence.

    Such thoughts have also slipped through the mind of Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç. This 6th of June, the human rights lawyer has been deprived of his freedom for a whole year, although he’s done nothing wrong.

    But throughout this ordeal, he has gained strength from the support of people all over the world: “Even if an imprisoned person may fall in the illusion that he would be forgotten even by his closest ones -like “forgotten prisoners”- my situation has been the opposite in fact.

    In addition to my family and friends, I’ve become known in and watched by the world thanks to Amnesty International.”

    May 11, 2018

    Ahead of tomorrow’s planned student Pride march at the Middle East Technical University - cancelled by the university’s rector under the blanket ban of LGBTI events by Ankara’s city authorities - Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Europe said:

    “For the last seven years students at this university have marched through their campus in support of LGBTI rights. Rather than banning Pride events, university and city authorities should be supporting and protecting such marches. Students must be allowed to march without fear of intimidation or violence.”

    “It is not just this university’s march that is under threat. Such bans have been used to reverse a once progressive trend to counter homophobia and transphobia in Turkey.”

    Background

    Ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on 17 May, Amnesty International are calling on Ankara Governor to reverse the blanket ban on all LGBTI events in Ankara.

    May 02, 2018
     Journalists in Turkey speak about the climate of fear on global day of action for World Press Freedom Day  Journalists & celebrities around the world join campaign co-organised by Amnesty International calling for release of more than 120 jailed media workers and denouncing politically motivate trials and sentences they are facing

    Journalists have spoken out about the stifling climate of fear that has enveloped Turkey’s media landscape, ahead of a global day of action to demand the release of more than 120 journalists still imprisoned since the failed 2016 coup.

    The journalists spoke of the challenges they face in the wake of the crackdown and the urgent need for international solidarity. Some spoke from jail. Others, including the editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, had just been sentenced. All are under under constant threat of arbitrary detention, prosecution and conviction for nothing more than doing their jobs or for expressing peaceful opinions.

    April 25, 2018

    A sustained and escalating crackdown curtailed the vital work of human rights defenders in Turkey and left swathes of society in a state of constant fear, a new report from Amnesty International has revealed.

    The report, Weathering the storm: Defending human rights in Turkey’s climate of fear, reveals how few areas of Turkey’s once vibrant independent civil society have been left untouched by the ongoing state of emergency.  A nationwide crackdown has resulted in mass arrests and dismissals, the hollowing out of the legal system and the silencing of human rights defenders through threats, harassment and imprisonment.

    “Whilst the jailing of journalists and activists may have hit the headlines, the profound impact that Turkey’s crackdown has had on wider society is harder to quantify but it is no less real,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik.

    April 24, 2018

    At least 2,000 Afghans who fled to Turkey to escape conflict and the worst excesses of the Taliban are in detention and at imminent risk of being forced back to danger, Amnesty International said today. The Turkish authorities appear to be ramping up a deportation spree that has seen 7,100 Afghans rounded up and returned to Afghanistan since early April.

    The Turkish authorities told Amnesty International that all these returns are voluntary, and that the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has periodic access to places of detention. However, in telephone interviews with detainees in the Düziçi container camp in southern Turkey, where at least 2,000 Afghans are believed to be held, Amnesty International heard how detainees have been pressured to sign documents written in Turkish, which they are unable to understand.

    April 05, 2018
    Letter from Taner Kılıç says solidarity actions “have lifted my spirits” Photographs and spokespeople available

    Ahead of today’s international day of action, marking his 300th day behind bars, the imprisoned honorary chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kılıç, has expressed his heartfelt thanks to all those who have stood in solidarity with him.

    In a letter sent from Sincan prison in Izmir, where he has been held since 9 June pending the outcome of his trial, Taner Kılıç writes:

    “Photographs taken from the actions organized under the hot sun, rain and the freezing cold have lifted my spirits and reminded me of the importance of international solidarity in the struggle for human rights.”

    In the letter, published today to coincide with stunts to demand his release by campaigners in more than 40 countries, Taner Kılıç goes on to say:

    March 20, 2018

    Following long-awaited landmark rulings today by the European Court of Human Rights which found that journalist Mehmet Altan and columnist Şahin Alpay’s rights to liberty and security, and freedom of expression, had been violated, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “Today’s rulings are a resounding vindication for these two journalists and a damning indictment of Turkey’s justice system. That Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay were kept in jail on pre-trial detention for almost 20 months is not only unjust but also unlawful.

    “This ruling cements what was already common knowledge: that they – like more than one hundred other journalists in Turkey - were imprisoned simply for doing their important journalistic work.

    “Starting with Mehmet Altan, the doors of Turkey’s prisons must now be flung open allowing journalists, activists and human rights defenders including Amnesty International’s chair, Taner Kılıç, to walk free.”

    Background

    March 09, 2018

    Following a court ruling today that Cumhuriyet’s editor in chief, Murat Sabuncu, and prominent journalist, Ahmet Şık, should be released from jail, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “After well over a year in prison on pre-trial detention, the release of these two journalists is long-overdue. The decision provides a glimmer of hope for the scores of other journalists behind bars in the country that has become the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

    “As Ahmet and Murat are reunited with their loved ones, shamefully, their colleague Akın Atalay will be led back to the prison cell where he has been held for more than sixteen months.

    “Akın Atalay and all other wrongfully imprisoned journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released and charges against them dropped. It is time for Turkey to let journalists do their essential work freely.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 14, 2018

    Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested along with nine other participants when police stormed a routine workshop in Istanbul on 5 July 2017. Charged with “aiding a terrorist organization”, two were bailed while the other eight, including Idil, were held in pre-trial detention. Their arrest followed that of Amnesty’s Turkey chairman, Taner Kılıç, who had been imprisoned separately in June. After a global outpouring of action, Idil and her seven co-detainees were granted conditional release on 25 October, while Taner remained in jail.

    JULY–SEPTEMBER Thousands of signatures, letters and messages mounted around the world calling for the release of Idil and her colleagues.

    10 JULY Amnesty Belgium Director Philippe Hensmans posed in a cage in front of the Turkish embassy in Brussels, Belgium, to protest against the continued detention of his Turkish colleague.

    February 01, 2018

    After spending almost 8 months in jail on unjust charges, an Istanbul court ordered that Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kiliç be released on bail on January 31st. In unprecedented flip flop later that day the court overturned its decision and Taner was re-arrested and returned to detention as his friends, family and colleagues waited for him to be released. This is a cruel and disgraceful move by the Turkish government. Their continued crackdown on human rights defenders in Turkey is an affront to justice.

    We need you to take action to help free Taner. Here is how you can get involved:

    1. TAKE ACTION NOW

    Sign and share our action demanding that Taner be released immediately and unconditionally

    >>SIGN NOW

    2. Organize in your community

    Organise a protest outside the Turkish Consulate in your community or another public space; and share on social media using the hashtag #FreeTaner

    February 01, 2018

    The decision to renew the detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair mere hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and Taner Kılıç set free, said Amnesty International.

    “Over the last 24 hours we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    "To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner and his family."

    “This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms.”

    January 29, 2018

    More than one million people from 194 countries have demanded the release of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç and the dropping of charges against him and 10 other human rights defenders as their trial resumes in Istanbul on 31 January.

    The 11 face trumped up “terrorism” charges in what can only be described as a politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey. If convicted they could face jail terms of up to 15 years.

    “With overwhelming evidence of his innocence and none of any wrongdoing Taner’s release is long overdue. The fact that he has spent almost eight months behind bars speaks volumes about Turkey’s flawed justice system and the government’s ruthless pursuit of those who stand up for human rights,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    “Today’s hearing offers yet another opportunity to end this glaring miscarriage of justice allowing this principled and passionate human rights defender to return to his family and resume his vital work. The court must acquit Taner and the other 10 human rights defenders and end this farce once and for all.”

    November 22, 2017

    Responding to today’s decision by the Istanbul Court to continue the pre-trial detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, John Dalhuisen said:

     

    “Today in court lawyers for the defence and an independent expert witness demolished the prosecution’s arguments. All the evidence shows Taner is innocent but this evening he was nevertheless sent back to the overcrowded cell where he has spent more than five months.”

    “The court’s decision to ignore this evidence and continue his detention flies in the face of reason. It is yet another opportunity missed to correct a gross injustice. We will continue to fight for his release and for the dropping of all charges against both him and the Istanbul 10.”

    The next court hearing has been set for 31 January, 2018

    ++++++++++++++++++

    For media inquiries, contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

     

    November 22, 2017

    Edward Snowden, Catherine Deneuve, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Angélique Kidjo, Anish Kapoor, Francois Morel and MPs sign open letter

    More than 70 renowned cultural and political figures have come together to demand that Turkish authorities drop trumped-up terrorism charges against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair.

    The call made by more than 30 politicians and scores of artists - including Edward Snowden, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Catherine Deneuve, Angélique Kidjo - comes as the trial of the 11 resumes in Istanbul on charges which carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

    “We are proud to add our voices to the global demand to end this gross injustice and to immediately and unconditionally release Taner Kılıç from jail,” they write in the letter.

    “When human rights defenders are silenced, all our rights are put at risk. They are the ones that stand up for us. Now we must stand up for them.”

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