Amnesty launches campaign for release of AI Turkey chairman

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Activists of Amnesty International stage a protest against the detention of the head of Amnesty International in Turkey, Taner Kılıç, in front of the Turkish Embassy in Berlin on June 15, 2017. Taner Kilic was arrested in the Turkish province of Izmir along with 22 other lawyers on June 6, 2017 and has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and remanded in custody pending trial / AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL

The London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has launched a campaign for urgent action against the recent imprisonment of Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and the chairman of AI Turkey’s board.

AI kicked off the campaign on Twitter on June 14 to support Kılıç, calling for his release, with the hashtag #FreeTanerKılıç.

Since then, members of the organization have been sending messages of solidarity by taking photos with #FreeTanerKılıc signs and posting them on social media.

Kılıç is a founding member of AI Turkey and has been chairman of its board of directors since 2014. He has also played a strong role in advocating for refugee rights as a lawyer and with domestic nongovernmental groups and others working on these issues.

He is accused of using the ByLock smartphone application.

ByLock is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt last July.

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. (Turkey Purge)

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