Turkey: Global figures join call to “end gross injustice” as trial of Amnesty Chair and Director and other rights activists resumes

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.”
Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was detained on 6 June and sent to jail three days later, where he has been ever since. Ten other activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were detained a month later. Seven of them were remanded in Turkey’s highest security Silivri prison, with one remanded at Ankara’s Sincan Prison. The eight were held for almost four months and released last month at their first hearing. They are all accused of “membership of a terrorist organization”.
The charges against the 11 include outlandish claims that standard human rights work amounts to ‘assisting terrorist organizations’.
Taner Kılıç is alleged to have downloaded and used the ByLock messaging application, which the prosecution has claimed was used by the Gülen movement to communicate with each other. However, two independent forensic analyses of Taner’s phone commissioned by Amnesty International found that there is no trace of ByLock ever having been on his phone. So far, the prosecution have not provided any evidence to prove their claim. The forensic expert who prepared the detailed reports is expected to appear at the trial on 22 November.
The signatories join a long list of governments, institutions and political figures that have demanded Taner’s release including the European Commission, the US State Department, UN officials, Angela Merkel and the German government as well as the Austrian, Irish and Belgian governments.
More than 20 British MPs have so far signed a parliamentary motion tabled last week calling for the immediate release of Taner and the dropping of charges against the 11. This follows similar calls last month by 22 members of the US Congress including 14 Senators as well as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the Chair of the Human Rights Committee in the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri.
“What we are witnessing is a massive groundswell of opinion against what is clearly a politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within the country,” said Aakar Patel, the Director of Amnesty India, who is attending the trial.
“This trial has served not only to remind people of the importance of human rights, but the vital role played by those that defend them. The time has come for Taner to be released and for the charges against him and the Istanbul 10 to be dropped,” said Fernando Nabais da Furriela, the Chair of Amnesty International Brazil, who is also attending the trial.
The 11 defendants are set to have their second hearing in Istanbul on 22 November at the 35th Heavy Penal Court (starting at 10am).
Amnesty International will have teams monitoring the trials and available for interview.
For Amnesty International’s analysis of the cases visit: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/7329/2017/en/ and https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/7329/2017/en/
The Istanbul 10 were attending a workshop on wellbeing and digital security on 5 July when police raided the building and detained them all. On 4 October an Istanbul prosecutor filed an indictment against the so-called Istanbul 10 and Taner Kılıç, who, it claims was aware of preparations for the Büyükada workshop and was in contact with İdil and another of the defendants. At his trial on 26 October, the judge accepted the prosecutor’s application to join Taner’s case with the case against the other 10 human rights defenders.
The ten human rights defenders are İdil Eser (Amnesty International), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association), Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer) and İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition), Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly), Şeyhmus Özbekli (Rights Initiative) and Nejat Taştan (Association for Monitoring Equal Rights).
More than 700,000 people have signed Amnesty International actions calling for the release of Taner and the dropping of the charges against the Istanbul 10.
Additional Appeals for Release:
UK Motion signed by British parliamentarians. Tabled on 15 November 2017 – https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/546
Tonia Antoniazzi, Hilary Benn, Peter Bottomley, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Hugh Gaffney, Stephen Gethins, Helen Hayes, Lady Hermon, David Lammy. Clive Lewis, Caroline Lucas, Steve McCabe, Ian Mearns, Carol Monaghan, Joan Ryan, Jim Shannon, Dennis Skinner, Andy Slaughter, Chrisotpher Stephens, Jo Swinson, Catherine West.
Letter signed by 14 US Senators, 24 October 2017
Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Bernie Sanders, Martin Heinreich, Richard Durbin, Benjamin Cardin, Christopher Coons, Chris Van Hollen, John Boozman, Edward Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Robert Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen
Letter signed by 8 members of the US Congress, 16 October 2017
Sen Robert F Wicker, Rep Christopher H Smith, Sen Benjamin L Cardin, Rep Alcee L Hastings, Sen Marco Rubio, Rep Randy Hultgren, Sen Thom Tillis, Reb Robert B Aderholt, Rep Gwen Moore, Rep Sheila Jackson Lee
Letter signed by Hollywood stars – 12 October 2017
Zoë Kravitz, Nazanin Boniadi, Don Cheadle, Marisa Tomei, Adam McKay, Paul Haggis, Joshua Malina, Fisher Stevens, Claire Danes, Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Farrell, Eva Orner, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Roth, Kathy Najimy, Mark Ruffalo, Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Cohen, Shira Piven, Mike White, Tim Kring, and James McAvoy
A number of well-known UK personalities also supported the campaign for the release of Taner and the Istanbul 10 over previous months including:
Graham Linehan, Ken Loach, Rae Morris, Stephen Fry, Sir Patrick Stewart, Simon Rix, Paul Bettany, David Shrigley, Hollie McNish, Pasha Bocarie
Letter signed by French personalities – 7 July 2017
Sophia Aram, comédienne; Robert Badinter, ancien président du Conseil constitutionnel français, Professeur émérite à l’université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne; Juliette Binoche, comédienne; Jane Birkin, chanteuse; Jacques Bouyssou, Avocat, Ancien Membre du Conseil de l’Ordre; Hamit Bozarslan, directeur d’études, EHESS; C215, Graffeur; Dan Franck, écrivain; Olivier Gluzman, manager de Jane Birkin et directeur des Visiteurs du soir; Kaddour Hadadi (HK), chanteur; Isabelle Huppert, comédienne; Agnes Jaoui, comédienne; Angélique Kidjo, chanteuse; Nicolas Lambert, comédien; Marc Levy, écrivain; François Morel, comédien; Franck Pavloff, écrivain; Natacha Régnier, comédienne; Paul Rondin, Directeur délégué du Festival d’Avignon; Lambert Wilson, comédien; Camille Blanc, présidente et Sylvie Brigot-Vilain, directrice générale, Amnesty International France; Umit Metin, coordinateur de l’Assemblée Citoyenne des Originaires de Turquie – ACORT; Sylvie Bukhari de Pontual, Présidente Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Développement – CCFD; Bernard Dreano, Président du CEDETIM, cofondateur du réseau Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly International; Michel Tubiana, président réseau Euromed Droits; Bénédicte Jeannerod, Directrice générale France, Human Rights Watch; Malik Salemkour, Président Ligue des Droits de l’homme ; Renée Le Mignot, présidente du Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples – MRAP; Dominique Attias, Vice Bâtonnière et Frédéric Sicard, Bâtonnier de l’Ordre des Avocats de Paris; Christophe Deloire, Secrétaire général Reporters sans frontières; Clarisse Talon, présidente Syndicat de la Magistrature; Vincent Lanier, Premier secrétaire général, Syndicat National des Journalistes – SNJ; Martin Pradel, avocat et Directeur des droits de l’Homme de l’Union Internationale des Avocats. http://www.liberation.fr/debats/2017/07/17/appel-pour-la-liberation-d-idil-eser-et-des-defenseurs-des-droits-humains-en-turquie_1584443
High profile figures who have called for their release see: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/celebrities-join-call-on-turkey-to-release-human-rights-defenders-still-in-jail-after-100-days/
Governments and institutions that have called for their release: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/07/the-world-is-finally-starting-to-break-its-silence-on-turkey/