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.

Free rights defenders in Turkey

They dedicate their lives to defending the rights of others. Now they need us.

It should have been an ordinary day for İdil Eser, director of Amnesty Turkey. She was attending a meeting with colleagues in Istanbul, when the police raided the building and arrested them.

Now stuck in jail, they urgently need our help to free them - and there’s no time to waste.

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 and İlknur Üstün. Nejat Taştan and Şeyhmus Özbekli were released on bail, but still face investigation. This happened just weeks after Amnesty Turkey's Chair, Taner Kılıç, was jailed.

None of them have done anything wrong: Turkey has jailed these people, just like they have jailed hundreds of journalists, fuelling the propaganda that human rights defenders are somehow dangerous and must be stopped.

This is ridiculous and simply not true. These people were peacefully protecting other people’s human rights in Turkey. Every day that they are detained, the people they spoke up for are left more vulnerable to the government’s brutal crackdown.

We won’t stop until they’re all free. Join our call to release the human rights defenders - we will make sure your voice is heard when it’s needed most, and let Turkey know the world is watching.

Özlem Dalkıran Özlem Dalkıran
Özlem Dalkıran

Özlem Dalkiran

Özlem Dalkiran is a long standing and prominent human rights campaigner. She is a founding member, and former chair of Amnesty International Turkey. 

I feel great bring in being part of our human rights community. I value the morale that the domestic and international campaign is generating for us in detention and for human rights defenders out there. I have never felt part of a family as much as I feel right now. So happy that you exist, that we all exist
Özlem Dalkiran 8 July 2017
İdil Eser İdil Eser
İdil Eser

İdil Eser 


İdil Eser is the Director of Amnesty International Turkey and has held various managerial positions in non-governmental organizations Helsinki Citizens' Assembly and Doctors Without Borders.

The reason I wanted to do this work was, knowing from historical examples, the fate of countries where human rights are not respected and my belief in the importance of working for rights. To be honest, I was working to prevent anyone going through the legal absurdity I am going through right now.”
İdil Eser

Taner Kiliç

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.

İlknur Üstün İlknur Üstün
İlknur Üstün

İlknur Üstün

İlknur Üstün is head of Ankara KADER (Women’s Association), Turkey Coordinator for the European Women's Lobby and the Coordinator of the Women's Coalition.

All my life I have been part of the struggles for equality and freedom for women and for justice. I carried on believing in the people I walked with in our common struggle and the rightfulness of it. I see once more the importance and necessity of our fight. We are not few, we are not small. I will be proud to continue our struggle until women are equal and free, and we realise justice for everyone.
İlknur Üstün
Günal Kurşun Günal Kurşun
Günal Kurşun

Günal Kurşun

Günal Kurşun is an academic, lawyer and Amnesty Turkey activist. He was the first Turkish lawyer working on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Turkey and until recently was a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Başkent University in Ankara

That a country’s foremost human rights defenders be detained based of absurd allegations and people who have dedicated their lives to opposing violence be accused of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organisation’ is exclusive to Turkey. We are well but we need your support.”
Günal Kurşun
Veli Acu Veli Acu
Veli Acu

Veli Acu


Veli Acu is currently studying English Literature at Gaziantep University and has been a board member at the Human Rights Agenda Association since 2009.

Thanks to this detention and these baseless accusations directed at me as a human rights activist and a humanitarian worker, I have now seen how right and needed our struggle is. Human rights for all now, without discrimination!
Veli Acu
Nalan Erkem Nalan Erkem
Nalan Erkem

Nalan Erkem

Nalan Erkem is a campaigner against torture and violence against women. She and was a member of the board of directors of the Izmir Bar Association between 2002-2004.

I have been opposed to violence of all kinds and worked for human rights my entire life. I believe in the importance of solidarity in the face of human rights violations. During my time in custody, many young lawyers are coming to see me, they are supporting me. I can see once more the righteousness of my beliefs, the power of solidarity and I feel part of a huge family.
Nalan Erkem
Nejat Taştan Nejat Taştan
Nejat Taştan

Nejat Taştan


Nejat Taştan is an activist, who has been campaigning for human rights since 1986. He is the coordinator and founding member of Equal Rights Watch Association.

Muhammed Şeyhmus Özbekli Muhammed Şeyhmus Özbekli
Muhammed Şeyhmus Özbekli

Şeyhmus Özbekli


Şeyhmus Özbekli is a newly qualified lawyer. He has been actively involved in human rights for the last four years. He is a member of the Rights Initiative and works in the Human Rights Unit of Diyarbakır Bar Association.

Ali Gharavi Ali Gharavi
Ali Gharavi

Ali Gharavi


Ali Gharavi is an Iranian-Swedish writer and information technology consultant. He worked as head of Information Technology at the Center for Victims of Torture providing direct support to survivors of torture and carrying out international advocacy to end torture and inhumane treatment.

We firmly believe in the principle of non-violence and working only with organisations that work with the lawful framework of these countries.
Ali Gharavi
Peter Steudtner Peter Steudtner
Peter Steudtner

Peter Steudtner


Peter Steudtner is a German trainer, coach, photographer and documentary film maker with 20 years experience of supporting peace workers and human rights defenders through trainings on non-violent action and conflict transformation.

Supporting human rights defenders and their organisations are not a crime but a right.
Peter Steudtner

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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