PACE co-rapporteurs ask for immediate release of human rights defenders

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Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) (L) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC)

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC), on Friday expressed serious concern at the detention of eight human rights activists in İstanbul on Wednesday, calling on the Turkish government to release them immediately.
“These arrests, which took place during a training seminar on human rights defenders, are another devastating signal at a time when Turkey needs to address serious human rights issues, as pointed out by the Parliamentary Assembly in its most recent resolution,” said the co-rapporteurs.

“We ask for the immediate release of these human rights defenders, and urge the Turkish authorities to ensure that fundamental freedoms, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, are duly and effectively secured, and to refrain from further action which might have a chilling effect on society,” the co-rapporteurs added.
Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International (AI), İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli, and Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two foreign trainers — a German and a Swedish national — as well as the hotel owner, who was later released, were also detained.

AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty in a statement on Wednesday harshly criticized the detention of AI Turkey Director Eser along with the seven other human rights activists, calling it “a grotesque abuse of power.”

Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and chairman of AI’s Turkey’s board, was arrested on June 9, accused of links to the alleged mastermind of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Fethullah Gülen, who has denied any involvement.

Yves Pozzo Di Borgo (France, EPP/CD), PACE’s rapporteur on “Ensuring the protection of human rights defenders in the member States of the Council of Europe,” expressed his deep concern after the arrest of Kiliç.

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