Police have detained two leaders of Amnesty International within the space of a month. These arrests are just the latest in an escalating human rights crisis.Thousands, including political activists, lawyers, journalists and others critical of government policy in Turkey are facing criminal prosecutions on trumped up terrorism charges. Take action now!
· 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.
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.
Responding to news that Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, seven other human rights activists and two IT trainers, are being investigated for membership of an armed terrorist organization, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“The absurdity of these accusations against Idil Eser and the nine others cannot disguise the very grave nature of this attack on some of the most prominent civil society organizations in Turkey.
“Their spurious detention while attending a routine workshop was bad enough: that they are now being investigated for membership of an armed terrorist organization beggars belief.
“If anyone was still in doubt of the endgame of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, they should not be now. There is to be no civil society, no criticism and no accountability in Erdoğan’s Turkey.”
“If world leaders meeting at the G20 fail to stand up for Turkey’s beleaguered civil society now, there may be nothing left of it by the time the next summit comes around.
“We are profoundly disturbed and outraged that some of Turkey’s leading human rights defenders, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey should have been detained so blatantly without cause.
“Her incommunicado detention and that of the other human rights defenders attending a routine training event, is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country. Idil Eser and those detained with her, must be immediately and unconditionally released.
For a third year running, authorities in Istanbul banned, on spurious grounds, the Istanbul Pride March, historically the biggest event held by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) people and supporters in Turkey. Yesterday police used excessive and unnecessary force against people attempting to march peacefully despite the ban.
The event, which had been successfully held annually for over a decade and which attracted tens of thousands of participants, was once held up by the authorities as an example of their respect for rights. The repeated blocking of the Pride March in recent years is yet another example of the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and difference, the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey in general, and the authorities’ failure to uphold LGBTI rights.
The Turkish prosecution’s decision to charge Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, with “membership of a terrorist organisation” is a mockery of justice, and highlights the devastating impact of the Turkish authorities’ crackdown following the failed coup attempt in July last year, Amnesty International said today.
Taner Kiliç became the latest victim of the government’s sweeping purge after he was detained in the early hours of Tuesday on suspicion of involvement with the Fethullah Gülen movement, together with 22 other lawyers based in Izmir. At his court hearing in the western Turkish city today, he was charged with membership of the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation” and remanded in pre-trial detention. Amnesty International is demanding his immediate and unconditional release.
Responding to the news that Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was today detained by police along with 22 other lawyers in Izmir on suspicion of having links with the Fethullah Gülen movement, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling.
“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kiliç along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them.”
The dismissal of more than 100,000 Turkish public sector workers is arbitrary and has had a catastrophic impact on their lives and livelihoods, a new report published by Amnesty International reveals.
No end in sight: Purged public sector workers denied a future in Turkey finds that tens of thousands of people including doctors, police officers, teachers, academics and soldiers, branded as ‘terrorists’ and banned from public service, are now struggling to make ends meet.
“The shockwaves of Turkey’s post-coup attempt crackdown continue to devastate the lives of a vast number of people who have not only lost their jobs but have had their professional and families lives shattered,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.
“Tainted as ‘terrorists’ and stripped of their livelihoods, a large swathe of people in Turkey are no longer able to continue in their careers and have had alternative employment opportunities blocked.”
Responding to the ongoing detention of Oğuz Güven, the web editor of the prominent Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet after he was taken into police custody this morning, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher, said:
“Since their crackdown on the media escalated dramatically following the coup attempt last July, the Turkish authorities have been relentless in their hounding of Cumhuriyet, which is now one of the country’s last remaining opposition newspapers. 12 Cumhuriyet staff members are currently held in prison pending trial, and Oğuz Güven’s detention is yet another demonstration of the authorities’ intent to stamp out independent journalism for good.
“Reports that Oğuz Güven was apparently detained on the basis of a single headline reflect the terrifying new reality for journalists in Turkey, where one word out of place can get you locked up. His detention is another dark day for media in Turkey, which since last year, has held the disgraceful record for being the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.”
Top journalists, cartoonists and world-renowned artists have joined a campaign to demand the release of more than 120 journalists jailed in Turkey following last summer’s coup attempt and an end to the ruthless crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.
The campaign, which has attracted 250,000 supporters since February, will see protests in cities around the world timed to coincide with World Press Freedom Day and the publication of an Amnesty International briefing, Journalism is not a crime: Crackdown on media freedom.
“A large swathe of Turkey’s independent journalists are languishing behind bars, held for months on end without trial, or facing prosecution on the basis of vague anti-terrorism laws,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Today our thoughts are with all journalists who are imprisoned or facing threats and reprisals, but our particular focus is on Turkey where free expression is being ruthlessly muzzled. We call on Turkey’s authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists jailed simply for doing their job.”
Reacting to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe vote to reintroduce full monitoring of the ‘functioning of democratic institutions’ in Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher said:
“This welcome decision sends a clear and powerful message that Turkey must end its crackdown on human rights.
“With this vote, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has made it clear to the authorities that human rights cannot be trampled underfoot without scrutiny and ultimately consequences.
“It sends a strong signal to Turkish civil society, journalists and victims of human rights abuses that the Council of Europe is willing to use all the available tools to bring Turkey back to compliance to the commitments it signed up to when it joined the organisation.”
On 3 May World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International will turn the spotlight onto Turkey’s treatment of journalists, calling for their release from pre-trial detention.