G20: Amnesty International's Secretary General in Hamburg today to demand release of staff detained in Turkey
Press briefing on Turkey's human rights crackdown at the G20 in Hamburg today by Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty. 14.30 local time, more details below.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will attend the G20 summit in Hamburg today (8 July) to lobby world leaders to urge Turkish President Erdoğan to immediately and unconditionally release Amnesty International Turkey staff, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç, and end the onslaught against civil society in Turkey.
Salil Shetty said:
“This is the first time in our history that Amnesty International has a director and chair from a single country both behind bars. They, along with all other detained human rights defenders, must be released immediately and unconditionally.
“If world leaders meeting at the G20 fail to stand up for Turkey’s beleaguered civil society now, there may be nothing left of it by the time the next summit comes around. Nineteen years ago we declared President Erdoğan a prisoner of conscience. Now he is presiding over a massive crackdown on human rights in Turkey.
“I will not rest until my colleagues – and those detained alongside them - are freed and I have flown out to Hamburg to demand world leaders take action.”
Amnesty Turkey’s Director, Idil Eser, was detained on 5 July along with seven other Turkish human rights defenders attending a training workshop outside Istanbul. She is being held under a seven-day detention order and is under investigation for “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Amnesty Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç, was detained on 6 June. He was charged three days later with “membership of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation” and remanded in pre-trial detention.
Amnesty believes the charges against both are baseless and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release, along with all those detained alongside Idil Eser.
At 10am on 5 July, eight human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director Idil Eser, and two international trainers were detained by police at a hotel in Büyükada, Istanbul, where they were attending a workshop.
All the detainees were denied access to lawyers for more than 28 hours, in contravention of Turkish law, which states a maximum time of 24 hours. The group were also denied the right to contact family members, again in contravention of Turkish law.
The authorities refused to confirm where the human rights defenders were being held until around 3pm on 6 July.
In addition to Idil Eser, the seven human rights defenders detained are: İlknur Üstün, Women’s Coalition; Günal Kurşun, lawyer, Human Rights Agenda Association; Nalan Erkem, lawyer, Citizens’ Assembly; Nejat Taştan, Equal Rights Watch Association; Özlem Dalkıran, Citizens’ Assembly; Şeyhmuz Özbekli, lawyer; and Veli Acu, Human Rights Agenda Association.
Taner Kiliç, Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained on 6 June. He was charged three days later with “membership of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization” and remanded in pre-trial detention. The only claim presented by the authorities purportedly linking Taner Kiliç to the Gülen movement is that Bylock, a secure mobile messaging application that the authorities say was used by members of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization”, was on his phone in August 2014.
No evidence has been presented to substantiate this claim, and Taner Kiliç denies ever having downloaded or used Bylock, or even having heard of it, until its alleged use was widely publicised in connection with recent detentions and prosecutions.
His arrest drew widespread condemnation from governments and official bodies including the US State Department Statement, the European Union and Council of Europe as and prompted diplomatic representations from 16 countries. It also sparked a worldwide campaign led by human rights and civil society organisations demanding #FreeTaner.
With heads of state gathered in Hamburg for the G20 summit, Amnesty International also placed a full-page advert in the Saturday 8 July edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reminding G20 leaders that Amnesty International had adopted President Erdoğan as prisoner of conscience in 1998, when he was then Mayor of Istanbul (see the advert reproduced here: https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2017/07/g20-amnestys-salil-shetty-in-hamburg-to-demand-release-of-staff-detained-in-turkey/).
A press briefing by Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, on Turkey’s crackdown on human rights, will take place at the G20 Summit this afternoon.
Where: Room M1, G20 Summit
When: 14:30 CEST