Amnesty condemns heavy charges against rights activists arrested in Turkey

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Amnesty International activists and partners protest outside the European Council building where EU diplomatic chief will meet with the Turkish foreign minister at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

Amnesty International on Sunday issued a statement condemning an indictment seeking jail terms of up to 15 years on terror charges filed against 11 human rights activists including İdil Eser and Taner Kiliç, the director and chair of Amnesty International Turkey, respectively.

Amnesty International’s official website on Sunday published a statement from John Dalhuisen, the Europe director of the organization, that called the charges “absurd” and called for the immediate release of the rights defenders.

“This outrageous indictment contains no new evidence but instead repeats absurd allegations against some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders.

“These brave activists have languished in jail for months on end for no reason other than their belief in human rights. For them to have spent even day behind bars is a gross injustice.

“This indictment is little more than a tawdry patchwork of innuendo and untruths and is itself a damning indictment of the flaws in Turkey’s justice system. The court must reject it in its entirety and ensure that our friends and colleagues are immediately and unconditionally released,” Dalhuisen said in the statement.

Six human rights activists, including Eser and German human rights consultant Steudtner, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada were put in pretrial detention by an İstanbul court on July 18 on charges of “abetting a terrorist organization.”

During a press conference in Hamburg on July 8 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt and signaled that the detention of the rights defenders could turn into imprisonment.

Amnesty International activists will have been in jail for 100 days on Oct. 12.

Charges against 10 of the Amnesty International-related human rights activists were reported to include “membership in a terrorist organization.” Charges of “terrorism,” “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” have been increasingly employed by the Turkish government as a means of silencing the opposition and dissidents.

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