Activists in more than 30 countries will join protests outside Turkish embassies today demanding the release of Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair and Director as well as other prominent human rights defenders behind bars amid a spiralling crackdown.
With each passing day, the demand for the release of our colleagues grows louder and it will not be silenced
The demonstrations mark one month since the organization’s Chair, Taner Kiliç, was remanded in prison on baseless charges, and five days since the Director, Idil Eser, was detained alongside seven other prominent human rights activists. They all face criminal investigations on the absurd suspicion of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organization’.
“As we approach the first anniversary of the Turkey’s state of emergency, these cases demonstrate just how arbitrary and ferocious the post-coup crackdown on real or perceived opposition has become. With each passing day, the demand for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues grows louder and it will not be silenced,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“We will not stand idly by as respected human rights champions are thrown into jail on spurious grounds in a transparently toxic bid to intimidate those brave critical voices in Turkey who have refused to be silenced. While they are behind bars, we will march for them. While they are gagged, we will speak out for them.”
Idil Eser, seven prominent human rights defenders and two trainers, were detained while attending a routine professional workshop. For over 28 hours the authorities refused to reveal their whereabouts and they were denied the right to call their loved ones.Their detention has been authorized for seven days, and could be extended for a further seven days without them being brought before a court.
We will not stand idly by as respected human rights champions are thrown into jail on spurious grounds
Taner Kiliç was detained on 6 June. He was charged three days later with “membership of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization” and remanded in pre-trial detention. The claim presented by the authorities purportedly linking Taner Kiliç to the Gülen movement is that Bylock, a secure mobile messaging application that the authorities say was used by members of the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization”, was on his phone in August 2014.
No evidence has been presented to substantiate this claim, and Taner Kiliç denies ever having downloaded or used Bylock, or even having heard of it, until its alleged use was widely publicized in connection with recent detentions and prosecutions.
“For the last month, my husband has been wrongfully and unlawfully imprisoned. This has been devastating to us,” said Hatice Kılıç, wife of Taner.
“I want to thank all those who stood by us during this period on behalf of my husband and my family. And I hope that all the hard work for him continues until Taner is released from prison.”
In addition to Idil Eser, the seven human rights defenders detained are: İlknur Üstün,Women’s Coalition; Günal Kurşun, lawyer, Human Rights Agenda Association; Nalan Erkem, Lawyer, Citizens’ Assembly; Nejat Taştan, Equal Rights Watch Association; Özlem Dalkıran, Citizens’ Assembly; Şeyhmuz Özbekli, lawyer; and Veli Acu, Human Rights Agenda Association.
Taner Kiliç has served on the board of Amnesty International Turkey for various periods since 2002 and has been Chair since 2014. During his decades of work for human rights organizations in Turkey he has consistently demonstrated an unswerving commitment to human rights.