Turkey: Free the Human Rights Defenders

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They have dedicated their lives to fighting for our rights. Now it's time we stand up for theirs.

Amnesty Turkey Director İdil Eser was among 10 human rights defenders detained while attending a human rights workshop on 5 July. They are suspected, without grounds, of ‘committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member'. 8 of them have been remanded in pre-trial custody and 2 have been bailed.

Their detention follows the arrest of Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kiliç, who has been imprisoned since 6 June on the absurd suspicion of being a member of an ‘armed terrorist organization’. The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.

These brave activists have been detained for no reason except for their belief in human rights. While they are behind bars, we will march for them. While they are gagged, we will speak out for them.

Milena Buyum - Amnesty International Campaigner
I want her out. I want to call her and speak to her and know that she is ok.

A message to Özlem

Our colleague Milena wrote a letter for her best friend, one of the activists detained in Istanbul.

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders

Police have detained the second Amnesty International Turkey leader within the space of a month.

On the morning of the 5th July, police arrested 10 human rights defenders, including İdil Eser, who were attending a workshop in Istanbul.

For over 24 hours, they weren’t allowed to contact their families or see a lawyer - and no one even knew where they were.

İdil and the others were doing nothing wrong. They are now being investigated on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organisation": a ridiculous and baseless accusation.

This kind of attack on human rights defenders is becoming more frequent. The Turkish government are abusing their power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.

The Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all ten detainees.

The ten human rights defenders detained are İdil Eser (Amnesty International), İlknur Üstün  (Women's Coalition), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Şeyhmus Özbekli (lawyer), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association) Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer).

Free Taner

After Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç was detained, his wife Hatice sent a message of thanks to everyone who is taking action for him, encouraging everyone to continue until he is freed.

While they are behind bars, we will march for them.

These investigations are the most recent attempts to silence the critical voices in Turkey. Since the failed coup attempt of July 2016, there are ongoing criminal investigations against approximately 150,000 people.

In the last year, 160 media outlets have been shut down and an estimated 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs. With more than 130 journalists and others who work in the media behind bars since the attempted coup, Turkey now jails more journalists than any other country.

These 11 women and men have risked their own safety to defend others. They speak out for other people’s freedom, they challenge injustices and they fight for everyone in Turkey to be treated fairly. Every day that they are detained, the people they speak up for are left even more vulnerable to the government’s ongoing crackdown on freedoms.

Hundreds of thousands of people in more than 30 countries have protested their detention.We will send a clear message to Turkish authorities that we will not stop until they are free. Join us and take action today.

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