Plight of human rights activists in Turkey

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Sir, – On Wednesday morning, eight human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, and two IT trainers from Sweden and Germany, were detained by police at a hotel in Istanbul, where they were attending a workshop.

Idil Eser’s detention comes less than a month after the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kýlýç, was imprisoned pending trial, also without valid grounds.

This is the first time in our history that Amnesty International has both a director and chair from one country behind bars.

The human rights defenders detained on Wednesday were taken to four different police stations on the outskirts of the city where they are being investigated for membership of an “armed terrorist organisation”.

The absurdity of these accusations cannot disguise the very grave nature of this attack on some of the most prominent civil society organisations in Turkey. This abuse of power highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in Turkey – a country which has seen more than 50,000 people jailed in the crackdown that followed the attempted coup almost exactly one year ago. 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 Recep Erdogan’s Turkey. I join with colleagues who represent the Amnesty movement in each of the G20 countries. We will not stay silent as our colleagues and friends are put in prison cells. We call on world leaders at the G20 summit to speak out with one voice. They must tell President Erdogan to immediately and unconditionally release Taner Kýlýç, Idil Eser and all detained human rights defenders, and end this onslaught against civil society in Turkey. – Yours, etc,

COLM O’GORMAN,

Executive Director,

Amnesty International

Ireland;

SALIL SHETTY,

Secretary General,

Amnesty International;

MARIELA BELSKI,

AI Argentina;

CLAIRE MALLINSON,

AI Australia;

JUREMA WERNECK,

AI Brazil;

ALEX NEVE,

AI Canada (English Branch);

BÉATRICE VAUGRANTE,

AI Canada (Francophone);

SYLVIE BRIGOT-VILAIN,

AI France;

MARKUS BEEKO,

AI Germany;

AAKAR PATEL, AI India;

USMAN HAMID, AI

Indonesia;

GIANNI RUFINI, AI Italy;

TARO O’SULLIVAN,

AI Japan;

CATHERINE KIM,

AI Korea;

TANIA RENEAUM PANSZI,

AI Mexico;

SHENILLA MOHAMED,

AI South Africa;

KATE ALLEN, AI UK;

MARGARET HUANG,

AI USA.



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