Peter Steudtner was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul, where he and Ali Gharavi were training human rights defenders on wellbeing and digital security. Among the attendees was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. Currently eight of them remain in prison and two are on bail, all facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. They have done nothing wrong.
Peter has written a message from his cell about coping with life in prison:
"To all who accompany me in thought and deed!
A wholehearted thankyou to all who support us, especially to my family and friends (and all who support them), to the German government, Ministries, Embassy, Consulate; to my legal team, and to my holistic security team, HIVOS + KURVE Wustrow, to all political campaigns that demand our release!
As I do not have any contact anymore with Ali and the other human rights defenders, I am writing this letter on my behalf only.
In July 2017, our friend and colleague İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, was detained along with nine other human rights defenders in Istanbul. Currently eight of them are in prison and two are on bail, all are facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. Yet they have done nothing wrong.
It came only a month after Amnesty Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained, also unfairly. He remains in prison.
On 14 October 2017, Amnesty will hold a global day of action demanding their release to coincide with Idil’s birthday.
So why is this happening to them?What happened on 5 July 2017?
It should have been an ordinary day for İdil Eser, director of Amnesty Turkey. She was attending a workshop on wellbeing and digital security with colleagues from other human rights organisations in Istanbul – the kind of gathering that takes place around the world every week. It included open discussions about the stresses they encounter and practical ways of dealing with these.
But during the workshop police raided the building and detained them all, including the two workshop trainers.
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.