Int’l rights organizations call on Turkey to release jailed human rights activists


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), has called on the Turkish government to unconditionally release 10 human rights activists who were arrested on terror charges after being detained on July 5 during a meeting at a hotel in İstanbul’s Büyükada district.

Condemning the arbitrary detentions and subsequent deterioration of prison conditions of the 10 activists, the rights groups said in a statement on the FIDH website on Saturday that the arrest of human rights activists aims at silencing their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, in the context of an ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders in Turkey.

FIDH said the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders was recently informed about the conditions of Nalan Erkem, a lawyer with the Citizens’ Assembly, İlknur Üstün, member of the Women’s Coalition, Veli Acu, a member of the Human Rights Agenda Association, İdil Eser, director of Amnesty International Turkey, Özlem Dalkıran, a member of the Citizens’ Assembly, Günal Kurşun, former chairperson and lawyer with the Human Rights Agenda Association, and security consultants Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner as well as of the ongoing judicial harassment of Nejat Taştan, a member of the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, and Seyhmus Özbekli.

According to the information received, respectively on July 18, 2017, Mr. Veli Acu and Mr. Günal Kurşun, on July 31, 2017, Ms. Idil Eser, Ms. Özlem Dalkıran and Ms. Nalan Erkem , and on August 1, 2017 Mr. Ali Gharawi and Mr. Peter Steudtner were transferred to Silivri prison in Istanbul, while Ms. İlknur Üstün remains detained in Ankara’s Sincan prison,” FIDH said.

According to FIDH, Acu and Kurşun have been held in solitary confinement and a petition to share a cell was initially denied by the Silivri Prison administration for security reasons. However, at the time of publication of the appeal, Kurşun was no longer detained in solitary confinement.

Ms. Idil Eser, who does not have first degree family members, is only allowed to receive visits from her lawyers. Messrs. Ali Gharawi and Peter Steundtner [sic], who were detained in solitary confinement for 3 days, are only allowed weekly one-hour visits from their lawyers,” the statement said.

The Observatory urges Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Veli Acu, Ms. Idil Eser, Ms. Özlem Dalkıran, Mr. Günal Kurşun, Mr. Ali Gharawi, Mr. Peter Steudtner, Ms. Nalan Erkem, Ms. İlknur Üstün and to put an end to all form of harassment against the latter as well as Mr. Nejat Taştan and Mr. Şeyhmus Özbekli,” it added.

On July 5 Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained 10 human rights activists.

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

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