Istanbul 10 released!
After more than 100 days in prison, Amnesty’s Director in Turkey, Idil Eser – and all of the “Istanbul 10” - have been released! They were imprisoned in July on entirely baseless terror charges, as part of a widespread crackdown in Turkey.
Thank you to the incredible efforts of human rights supporters around the world who spoke out in so many ways to help bring about this uplifting news. Had they been convicted, they could have faced jail terms up to 15 years.
Amnesty supporters all over the world have been campaigning for the release of all 11 human rights defenders since their arrests in June and July, through meetings with government officials, rallies, letter writing, public demonstrations, and high profile figures calling for their release. It has been a remarkable period of solidarity and action.
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Now, our efforts turn to Taner Kılıç
Unfortunately, the Chair of Amnesty Turkey, Taner Kılıç, was denied bail in court on October 26th. His case has been lumped in with the cases of the Istanbul 10, and he is being charged based on the allegation that he downloaded and used the ByLock messaging application, claimed to have been used by the Gülen movement to communicate. 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.
Amnesty’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, responds to the good news and need for continued activism in defence of human rights in Turkey:
“Over the last 24 hours we have seen the twin hands of Turkey's fickle justice system at play. While one grants liberty, the other, confronted with no less baseless charges, takes it away. The release of the Istanbul 10 late last night restored some faith in Turkey's justice system. Today, that faith has been washed away. Turkish authorities have repeatedly and publicly presumed Taner Kılıç’s guilt, on the basis of innuendo and unsupported allegations. We will continue undaunted to campaign for the release of our chair and the dropping of the charges against all human rights defenders in Turkey."
Background to the charges
The charges against the 11 (including Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç) include outlandish claims that standard human rights protection activities amount to assisting terrorist organizations. These include appealing to stop the sale of tear gas, making a grant application, and campaigning for the release of hunger-striking teachers. According to the indictment, İdil Eser is linked to three unrelated and opposing terrorist organizations and some of the allegations against her refer to two Amnesty International documents which were issued before she even joined the organization.
The prosecution offered no evidence to support their allegations that the Büyükada workshop, where the arrests took place, was a “secret meeting to organize a Gezi-type uprising” or that any of the defendants were engaged in wrongdoing. Amnesty International has made a detailed analysis of the indictment, addressing each of the allegations made against the 11 defendants.
We will continue to fight to free Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair
Analysis on the case against Taner can be found here.
Follow out what happened in court