Demand justice for human rights defenders in Turkey

It should have been an ordinary day for İdil Eser and her colleagues, a routine workshop meeting in Istanbul. But police raided the building and arrested them. This happened just weeks after Amnesty Turkey's Chair, Taner Kılıç, was imprisoned.

After more than 3 months in detention, and a global outcry for the release of the Istanbul 10, they were released on bail, but their trial continues. And Taner Kılıç remains in prison

İdil Eser is the Director of Amnesty Turkey, the others are colleagues and friends from Turkey and abroad. Their names are Özlem Dalkıran, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Ali Gharavi, Peter Steudtner, Nalan Erkem, İlknur Üstün, Nejat Taştan and Şeyhmus Özbekli. They are all committed human rights defenders who have done nothing wrong.

Yet they face up to 15 years in prison accused of “membership of a terrorist organisation”. Turkey wants to punish these people, just like they do hundreds of journalists, fuelling the propaganda that human rights defenders are somehow dangerous and must be stopped. This is ridiculous. Defending human rights is not a crime.

The Istanbul 10 and Taner are our friends and colleagues. They have dedicated their lives to peacefully protecting other people’s human rights in Turkey and elsewhere. Criminalising the defence of human rights leaves everyone vulnerable to the government’s ongoing sweeping crackdown.

We won’t stop until they’re ALL free. Join our call to drop the charges against the human rights defenders and let Turkey know the world is watching.

UPDATE

On January 31st, we told you that our dear colleague Taner Kılıç had finally been released after 8 gruelling months in jail. We said this because it's what the court ruled.

But while Taner's family excitedly waited for him to walk out of prison and into their arms, he was re-arrested and taken back into custody. The case continues in a local court today.

This is hugely upsetting and disappointing - and completely unacceptable.  

But while Taner's family excitedly waited for him to walk out of prison and into their arms, he was re-arrested and taken back into custody. The case continues in a local court today.

This is hugely upsetting and disappointing - and completely unacceptable.  

 

On 6 June 2017, our friend and colleague Taner Kılıç, a human rights lawyer and the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was arrested. He has been in prison ever since. Taner Kılıç was just doing his job, exposing human rights abuses in Turkey. But in June 2017, he was thrown into prison on the baseless accusation of being a member of an “armed terrorist organisation”. If found guilty he faces up to 15 years in jail.

He has done nothing wrong. Taner is not a terrorist, Taner is a human rights defender and lawyer. Taner was one of the first lawyers in Turkey to advocate for the rights of refugees and has spent his working life trying to better the situation of refugees who have fled to Turkey.

One month after Taner's arrest, 10 other human rights defenders, including Amnesty International Turkey’s Director, Idil Eser, were detained while attending a routine workshop for human rights activists in Istanbul.

All are on trial for “terrorism” related crimes – an absurd attempt to choke their human rights activism.

Taner is still in prison - and even though the Istanbul 10 have been released thanks to our campaigning, they are still at risk.

Taner and the Istanbul 10 are our friends and colleagues. They have dedicated their lives to peacefully protecting other people’s human rights in Turkey and elsewhere. Painting them as criminals leaves everyone vulnerable to the government taking away their personal freedoms.

What is Taner alleged to have done?

Since the bloody coup attempt in the summer of 2016, which the Turkish authorities blame on Fethullah Gülen, a massive crackdown on real and perceived opponents of the government swept through Turkey. One of the most common allegations used against thousands of people like Taner is the downloading and use of a little known secure messaging app called ByLock. The authorities claim that Taner downloaded ByLock in 2014.

Taner denies these allegations, he’d never even heard of ByLock until after the coup attempt. Two independent forensic examinations of his phone reveal absolutely no trace of ByLock ever having been downloaded. No credible evidence has been presented by the prosecution.

He is also accused of having an account with a Gülen-linked bank, Bank Asya. Like hundreds of thousands of others in Turkey, Taner did have an account with Bank Asya. He used that account to make direct debit payments to pay fees for the school his daughter attended.

Why has Taner really been imprisoned?

Taner’s treatment is one of many recent attempts to silence critical voices in Turkey. Since the failed coup attempt of July 2016 there are ongoing criminal investigations against over 150,000 people.

In the last year, more than 180 media outlets have been shut down and an estimated 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs. More than 120 journalists and media workers are imprisoned pending trial.

We won’t stop until they’re ALL free. Join our call to free Taner and drop the charges against the Istanbul 10. Let Turkey know the world is watching.