Turkey Holds Six Rights Activists In Custody
By admin July 18, 2017

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On July 5th, 10 human rights activists, including the director of Amnesty International (AI)-Turkey, were taken into custody for involvement in terrorist activity. Prosecutors accuse the activists of aiding in crimes in the name of a terror organization, albeit not being a member.

The activists released their statements shortly after this ruling had been made. No trial or formal charges have taken place yet. Amnesty International’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, claims that “This is not a legitimate investigation, this is a politically motivated witch-hunt that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey.”

AI has released other statements regarding the unsafe conditions of Turkey as a ground for human rights activists and ludicrous justice system. One assertion made by the organization is that in Turkey, truth and justice have become “total strangers.”

Among the 10 that were initially taken in are “two foreign trainers [Swedish and German] during a digital security and information management workshop on Buyukada, an island south of Istanbul,” The Guardian reports. The two remain incarcerated in pre-trial detention. The seven others are Turkish activists including Ilknur Ustün of the Women’s Coalition, Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association, and Idil Eser, the Amnesty International Turkey director.

Four of the activists have been released since on account of a court order that calls on “judicial control.”

After international outcry against the situation, there is increased belief in the decline of freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration.

Erdoğan has responded earlier this month by saying that the workshops held by the foreigners were suspected of conspiring against the government due to a tip-off. Prior to the arrests, police raided the hotel hosting the event. At a news conference during the G20 Summit, the president addressed the issue and closed off by saying the matter will be further handled by the judicial system.

Those involved that spoke with the outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) stated that it is completely clear the workshops were inconspicuous; just as any other held in Turkey or around the world.

The Turkish president cited the attempted coup last year as a reason for suspicion. In a statement made last week Erdoğan said, “Unfortunately, they gathered there for a meeting which has the nature of a continuation of July 15.” The movement was lead by Fethullah Gülen, Muslim preacher backed by the US. After the failed coup the government largely increased crackdown efforts. Last month Amnesty International’s Turkey chair, Taner Kiliç, was arrested for suspected links to the man held responsible for the failed putsch, Gülen.

According to AFP, “more than 50,000 people have been jailed and over 100,000 including judges, teachers, police and other state servants have been dismissed.” Many local and international rights groups have found the basis of the trials and arrests to be arbitrary, despite the government’s claims of legitimacy under its current state of emergency.

Amnesty International calls this a case of “travesty of justice”.

Further Reading:

Turkey court rules to keep six rights activists in custody

Turkey holds six rights activists on charges of aiding terror group

Turkish court jails six human rights activists, including Amensty director, pending trial

Amnesty International says justice a stranger in Turkey

Turkey arrests six human rights activists

Erdogan links detained rights activists to failed coup

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