Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

Jailing of activists, including Amnesty director, a crushing blow for rights in Turkey

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 18 July 2017
Cite as Amnesty International, Jailing of activists, including Amnesty director, a crushing blow for rights in Turkey, 18 July 2017, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The remanding of six human rights defenders in pre-trial custody is an appalling affront to justice and a new low in Turkey's post-coup crackdown, said Amnesty International.

Amnesty International Turkey's Director, Idil Eser, who was among those remanded in custody, was detained alongside nine others on 5 July whilst attending a routine workshop. Four of them have now been released on bail but are still facing investigation. All 10 are suspected, without grounds, of 'committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member'. The six who were remanded in custody join Amnesty International Turkey's Chair, Taner Kiliç, behind bars.

"Turkish prosecutors have had 12 days to establish the obvious: that these activists are innocent. The decision to proceed shows that truth and justice have become total strangers in Turkey," said Amnesty International's Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

"This is not a legitimate prosecution, this is a politically motivated persecution that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey."

The bizarre accusations include attempts to link Idil Eser with three unrelated and opposing terrorist organisations through her work with Amnesty International. The prosecutors request that she be remanded in pre-trial prison custody references two Amnesty International campaigns, neither of which were authored by Amnesty Turkey, one of which was conducted before she joined the organisation.

An accusation levelled against İlknur Üstün of the Women's Coalition, who was released on bail, is that she requested funding from "an embassy" to support a project on "gender equality, participation in policy making and reporting." "Today we have learnt that standing up for human rights has become a crime in Turkey. This is a moment of truth, for Turkey and for the international community," said Salil Shetty.

"Leaders around the world must stop biting their tongues and acting as if they can continue business as usual. They must bring pressure to bear on Turkish authorities to drop these spurious charges and to immediately and unconditionally release the rights defenders."


The six jailed 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) and Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer).

The four human rights defenders who were released on bail are İlknur Üstün (Women's Coalition), Şeyhmus Özbekli (Rights Initiative), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association) and Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly).

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. 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.

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