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.
By Alex Neve, Amnesty Canada Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty.
As a human rights advocate you know you will not make everyone happy. Government officials, military leaders, armed groups and businesses all attract your scrutiny, criticism and suggestions for improvement. Some act on the advice. Others ignore it. Some strenuously disagree.
Public debate can get heated. The recent exchanges around Omar Khadr’s case are a striking reminder of that. Even in Canada, leading Amnesty International, I’ve felt that heat. I’ve been insulted and called names. I’ve been rebuffed. I’ve been threatened.
But no matter how inflamed things have become, I’ve never been jailed for standing up for human rights.
My close colleague Idil Eser, who does my job in Turkey, heading up our national section there, has been jailed for doing just that. She has been behind bars for the past two weeks because she passionately defends human rights; in Turkey and around the world.
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.