Detained human rights activists face charges in Turkey

Claudine Rigal
Juillet 18, 2017

Ten human rights activists including Amnesty International's Turkey director were sent to an Istanbul court late on Monday in a case Amnesty slammed as a "travesty of justice".

More than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial and 150,000 dismissed or suspended from their jobs, including soldiers, police, teachers, judges and other public servants.

Idil Eser and the others were detained on July 5 as they held a meeting at a hotel near Istanbul, and taken to various police stations, a month after Amnesty Turkey's board chairman, Taner Kilic, was arrested on the same charge.

Either the detainees will be released or "unfortunately, we could see the continuation of this process where the government has targeted all critical voices, in particular human rights civil society", Amnesty's Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said. Among those arrested were two foreign trainers - a German and a Swedish national.

Turkey has blamed the July 15, 2016, failed coup on followers of US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has branded his movement a terror organization.

Some 250 people were killed in last year's coup attempt, and the government has said the security measures are necessary because of the gravity of the threats facing Turkey.

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"This is a test for Turkey's judiciary", he said.

"What is absolutely crystal clear, one hundred percent clear is this was a routine human rights workshop - the sort of workshop that happens all over Turkey, in fact the sort of workshop that happens all over the world", Gardner said.

Eser is the second top Amnesty International official in Turkey to face prosecution.

Pre-trial detention in Turkey can last for up to five years. The crackdown initially focused on people with suspected ties to the alleged coup plotters, but has been extended to include politicians, journalists and activists.

Also Monday, a group of lawyers gathered at a courthouse in Istanbul to protest the detention of a colleague, Mustafa Yaman, on alleged links to Gulen.

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