Our dear colleague Taner Kılıç has been locked up in Turkey for one year now, cruelly torn apart from his wife and daughters.

Despite the total lack of evidence against him, he faces months more behind bars until his next hearing in November.

Taner is not a criminal. He is a human rights defender. Email the Turkish Minister for Justice demanding his immediate release.

Turkey: Free rights defender Taner Kılıç

Taner's story

Taner Kılıç – the honorary Chair of Amnesty Turkey – was detained in the early hours of 6 June 2017 along with 22 other lawyers on suspicion of involvement with the ‘terrorist organisation’, Fethullah Gülen.

Shortly after he was officially charged with membership of the organisation and remanded in pre-trial detention.

It’s now been a year since he was locked up, torn apart from his wife and daughters.

He's faced two court hearings but, despite the complete lack of evidence against him, he remains jailed pending his next hearing on 6 November.

An innocent man

Let’s be clear – Taner is not a terrorist. He is a lawyer and human rights defender whose brave work threatens Turkey’s oppressive regime. That’s why he’s been targeted.

He was one of the first lawyers in Turkey to fight for the rights of refugees and has spent his working life trying to better the situation of refugees who have fled to Turkey.

As Chair of Amnesty International Turkey he made a huge contribution to the fight for better rights for all Turkish people.

He has been targeted by the Turkish government as part of a wider crackdown on human rights — a deliberate attempt to squash any opposition to the regime.

Shocking lack of evidence

The only claim that supposedly links Taner to the Gülen movement is that Bylock – a secure mobile messaging application that the authorities say was used by members of the terrorist group – was discovered on his phone in August 2014.

No evidence has been given to back this up. Two police reports submitted for a court hearing in June 2018 both admitted that there was no evidence that Taner ever downloaded this app onto his phone.

Taner is neither a supporter nor a follower of the Fethullah Gülen movement and has in fact been critical of its role in Turkey. He must not face trial on the basis of such flimsy and inadequate accusations.

These charges have drawn widespread international condemnation, including from the US State Department, the EU and many international and domestic human rights organisations.

Crackdown in Turkey

The crackdown since the failed government coup on 15 July 2016 has been astonishingly widespread. Our latest research has shown the ‘state of emergency’ declared since has resulted in the following:

  • 107,000+ employees summarily dismissed for their activism
  • 100,000+ people faced with criminal investigation
  • 50,000+ in prison pending trial
  • 1,300+ associations and foundations closed down
  • 265+ academic prosecuted for signing an appeal for peace
  • 180+ media outlets closed down
  • 120+ journalists and media workers detained or imprisoned

We expect these numbers to have risen even higher since.

Among other draconian measures are a ban on TV dating shows, which the Deputy Prime Minister has called “strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity”.

There has also been an attempt at online censorship, including a block on online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and attempted blocks on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Taner’s detention shows how broad the coup has become, going beyond the police and armed forces, penetrating deep into civil society. The Turkish authorities must be held to account for violating the rights of so many citizens.