Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) commissioner for human rights, has issued a strong statement on the arrest of Taner Kiliç, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, for alleged membership in a terrorist organization, calling on Turkish authorities to revert to the rule of law and to immediately release Kılıç.
Kılıç who was detained in the early hours of Tuesday on suspicion of involvement with the Fethullah Gülen movement, together with 22 other lawyers based in İzmir, was arrested by an İzmir court on Friday.
“I am dismayed to learn that Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International in Turkey, was placed in detention on remand last night [Friday] on unsubstantiated charges of membership of the Fethullah Gülen movement,” Muiznieks said in a statement shared on social media on Saturday.
“I believe the detention of Mr Kılıç illustrates the arbitrariness inherent in the system established under the state of emergency,” he added.
“It is difficult not to place Mr Kılıç’s detention against the background of the worrying trend of judicial actions currently targeting human rights defenders and an increasingly wide range of other civil society actors in Turkey.
“I once more call on the Turkish authorities to revert to the rule of law and in the clear absence of credible evidence of his involvement in criminal activity, to immediately release Mr Kılıç,” the CoE commissioner for human rights stated.
“Taner Kiliç is a principled and passionate human rights defender. The charges brought against him today are completely without merit. They show just how arbitrary, just how sweeping, the Turkish government’s frenzied pursuit of its perceived enemies and critics has become. He must be released immediately and the charges against him dropped,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, in a statement following the court decision on Friday.
“Jailing Amnesty Turkey head pending trial on membership of terrorist group shows again the horror show of Turkey’s courts. #FreeTanerKılıç,” HRW’s Turkey director Emma Sinclair-Webb tweeted on Friday
Kiliç’s detention takes place in the context of an escalating crackdown on human rights by the Turkish authorities, following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the movement, which strongly denies the accusation.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.