Turkey: Prosecution call for jail term of up to 15 years for six human rights defenders, including Amnesty’s honorary chair and former director, defies logic
Following a request by the State Prosecutor for the conviction of Amnesty Turkey’s honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, former director İdil Eser and four other human rights defenders on terrorism-related charges, Marie Struthers Europe, Director for Amnesty International, said:
“Today’s vindictive request by the State Prosecutor for jail terms of up to 15 years ignores the evidence and defies all logic.
“The terrorist allegations made against Taner, İdil and four others have been repeatedly disproven over the course of nine previous hearings and it is clear today, as it has been from the start, that the Istanbul 10 and Taner are on trial for nothing more than their human rights work. They must be acquitted.”
If convicted, they risk up to 15 years imprisonment. The next, and presumably final trial hearing, is set to take place on 19 February 2020.
The State Prosecutor requested the conviction of Taner Kılıç on the allegation of “membership of a terrorist organization” and İdil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Nejat Taştan and Veli Acu on “assisting a terrorist organization without being a member”. The State Prosecutor requested that Ali Gharavi, İlknur Üstün, Nalan Erkem, Peter Steudtner and Şeyhmus Özbekli be acquitted.
Three of the human rights defenders on trial who are lawyers (Taner Kılıç, Nalan Erkem and Şeyhmus Özbekli) could also lose their licences to practice law after a conviction for a terrorism-related offence.
Turkey: Amnesty’s ex-director and honorary chair must be acquitted in absurd “terror” trial
More than two years after they were first detained, the honorary chair, the former director of Amnesty International and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted of the absurd charges they still face, said Amnesty International ahead of their next trial hearing which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul.
The egregious injustice that our colleagues and friends have experienced for more than two years is common to hundreds of human rights defenders in Turkey who spend their days either languishing in jail or living in constant fear of prosecution
Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, is being tried alongside İdil Eser, the organization’s former Turkey director and nine other human rights defenders, known as the Istanbul 10, on baseless allegations of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.
“After months in jail and years before the courts, the prosecution has failed to present any credible evidence to substantiate the absurd charges made against Taner and the Istanbul 10,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Instead, the baseless accusations against them have been comprehensively demolished over the course of nine hearings. And yet the threat of conviction still hangs over them.”
Taner Kılıç spent more than 14 months in prison before his release on bail in August 2018. Eight of the Istanbul 10 spent almost four months each behind bars before they were bailed in October 2017.
The Istanbul 10 and Taner must be acquitted, and all those jailed merely for defending human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released
“The egregious injustice that our colleagues and friends have experienced for more than two years is common to hundreds of human rights defenders in Turkey who spend their days either languishing in jail or living in constant fear of prosecution,” said Kumi Naidoo.
“The Istanbul 10 and Taner must be acquitted, and all those jailed merely for defending human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
The hearing will begin at 07.00am GMT, on 27 November, 10.00am local time, at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, No 35.
An international delegation of senior Amnesty International representatives from around the world are attending the hearing in Istanbul including: Kerry Moscogiuri, Campaigns Director of AI UK; John Peder Egenaes, Director of AI Norway; Gaberiele Stein, Chair Amnesty International Germany.
For live updates from the court follow @MilenaBuyum @andrewegardner @KateAllenAI & @StefSimanowitz
The prosecution has failed to produce any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, let alone ‘terrorism’, during more than two years of this prosecution.
Three of the human rights defenders on trial who are lawyers (Taner Kılıç Nalan Erkem and Şeyhmus Özbekli) could also lose their licences to practice law after a conviction for a terrorist offence.