Turkey: “When I am released I want to carry on” says jailed Amnesty Chair

On the eve of the resumption of his trial, jailed Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, has made an impassioned plea for people not to stay silent on the issue of human rights abuses in Turkey and vowed to carry on his work when he is released.

“When I am released I want to carry on. I know now more than ever how important human rights are,” Taner told Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, who visited him in Şakran high security prison today.

I know now more than ever how important human rights are
Taner Kilic

“Others in are in a worse situation than me,” Taner continued, stressing the need for solidarity with everyone who has been unjustly jailed in Turkey.

Taner was arrested more than a year ago on baseless charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”. Earlier this week, Amnesty International revealed that a 15-page police report finally submitted by the prosecution, fails to find any evidence that Taner ever had the ByLock messaging application on his phone. The alleged presence of the secure messaging app was central to the case against him.

Others in are in a worse situation than me
Taner Kilic

The findings of the police report corroborate those of four independent forensic reports previously submitted to the court. All found no trace of the ByLock app ever having been downloaded onto his phone.

Speaking from outside the prison gates, Salil Shetty said:

“Today I had a long, deeply moving meeting in this prison with our colleague and friend Taner Kılıç who has been in jail for more than a year.

“Even while suffering this injustice, Taner is thinking of others. Rather than talk about his own situation, he was keen to focus on the wider issue of human rights violations in Turkey and stress his ongoing commitment to continue his fight against rights abuses. He also wanted to send his gratitude to all those around the world who have supported calls for his release.

“Tomorrow I will be in court for Taner’s fourth hearing. Not a shred of credible evidence has been presented to substantiate the absurd charges made against him, so Taner must now be released.

“Nothing can bring back the precious moments that Taner has missed, but tomorrow the court can put an end to this injustice and allow Taner to return to his family and resume his vital work.

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As well as Salil Shetty (@salilshetty), a delegation of Amnesty International directors from around the world will attend and tweet live from the trial and are available for interview. They are Kate Allen (UK - @KateAllenAI), @Estaban Beltran (Spain - @_estebanbeltran), Manon Schick (Switzerland - @manonschick), Jon Peder Egernaes (Norway - @johnpeder) and Europe Director Gauri van Gulik (@GaurivanGulik). Also follow Amnesty’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager Andrew Gardner @andrewegardner and Senior Campaigner Milena Buyum @MilenaBuyum and Campaigns Director, Fotis Filippou (@Fotis_Filippou), Stefan Simanowitz @StefSimanowitz

BACKGROUND

For Amnesty International’s analysis of the case against Taner Kılıç see - https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/7331/2017/en/

Taner Kılıç, was detained on 6 June 2017 and sent to jail three days later, where he has been ever since. Ten other activists (know as the Istanbul 10), including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, were detained a month later. Eight of them were held for almost four months before being released on bail in October.

They are all accused of “membership of a terrorist organization”, a baseless allegation for which the prosecution has yet to provide any evidence that would stand up to scrutiny.

Last December, Turkish authorities admitted that thousands of people have been wrongly accused of downloading ByLock. They published lists containing the numbers of 11,480 mobile phone users, leading to mass releases. Taner Kılıç is not yet among those listed for release.

More than a million people from 184 countries and territories have signed Amnesty International appeals demanding the release of Taner Kılıç and the other human rights defenders since their arrest last summer. Scores of well-known figures have called for the release of Taner and the dropping of charges against the Istanbul 10.