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Turkey arrests eight human rights activists

Thursday 6 July 2017, by siawi3

Source: https://news.vice.com/story/turkey-arrests-eight-human-rights-activists

“A grotesque abuse of power”

Turkey arrests eight human rights activists

By David Gilbert

on Jul 6, 2017

The Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is continuing its crackdown on dissident voices, arresting eight human rights activists Wednesday, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director, Idil Eser – a move which the charity called “a grotesque abuse of power.” Erdoğan’s growing authoritarian rule has led Europe to call for a suspension of talks between Brussels and Ankara over Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Eser was detained along with seven other human rights defenders during a digital security and information management workshop at a hotel in the Büyükada neighborhood of Istanbul. Two people running the workshop, from Germany and Sweden, were also arrested.

In a statement Thursday, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said the charity was “profoundly disturbed and outraged” that human rights activists were detained without cause. “This is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country. Idil Eser and those detained with her must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Turkish authorities initially denied the 10 people access to lawyers — legal for 24 hours after arrest in Turkey — and the right to contact a family member, which should be granted immediately. On Thursday afternoon, authorities revealed the five different locations where they are detaining those arrested.

The detention of Eser comes less than a month after Amnesty International’s Turkey chair, Taner Kiliç, was arrested along with 22 other lawyers and charged with membership in a “terrorist” organization, a charge Amnesty called “baseless.”

Following a controversial Turkish referendum in April, a new constitution granted Erdoğan sweeping new powers. The move has worried many in the international community, already concerned at the Turkish president’s media crackdown. Scores of journalists have been imprisoned, and over 100 media organizations have been shut down.

The European Parliament called for talks over Turkey’s accession to the European Union to be suspended if it implemented the new constitution — a decision rejected by Turkey’s EU minister, Ömer Çelik.

Turkey remains in a state of emergency almost a year after a failed coup in July 2016 that attempted to remove Erdoğan from power. In the widespread crackdown since the coup, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and detained, many of them public servants accused of supporting the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The referendum in April granted Erdoğan sweeping new powers, including the transfer of executive powers from the prime minister to the president, and potentially allows Erdoğan to remain as president for a third term. The new constitution has led critics to suggest it represents yet another step toward authoritarianism.

“It is clear that cooperation is needed with Turkey, but if the new constitution is implemented in a way that runs contrary to EU democratic standards, accession talks with the current Turkish government must be ended,” said the Parliament’s lead negotiator on Turkey, MEP Kati Piri.

In a rare interview with a foreign newspaper this week, Erdoğan denied that he was a dictator, telling German publication Zeit those accusing him have been informed incorrectly and they “should look up what dictator means.”

Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Source: European Women Lobby

July 6, 16.46

Urgent Turkey- Human Rights Activists Are Detained - EWL Coordination for Turkey General Coordinator Detained

Yesterday a group of human rights activists are detained without any reason and explanation. Only today we learned where they are taken to. They are kept in different police stations, no formal announcement is made by state officials.

Ilknur Üstün the founding members of EWL Coordination for Turkey and our current general coordinator is detained as well.

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Source: Women’s Coalition Turkey

Statement

July 6 2017

We are in solidarity with our colleagues who are detained!

Ten women and human rights defenders including members of Women’s Coalition, İlknur Üstün and Nalan Erkem, detained yesterday (5 July 2017).
It is unacceptable that two of the prominent women’s rights defenders were detained at a time when attacks against women’s rights are getting prevalent at an alarming rate. We see this detention as an outright attack against women’s movement and all women in the country. Women’s rights struggle cannot be separated from human rights struggles.
Both of our colleagues have worked dedicatedly on eliminating violence against women, for women’s access to justice and women’s political participation. We understand that their detention is a “response” to their years of relentless work on women’s rights.
Their detention will neither deter them nor us from our struggle for women’s rights, because there is a long way to go in realisation of women’s rights in Turkey.
It’s a long road, and we will continue with our strive for women’s rights.
We are in solidarity with our colleagues and and will follow the situation closely.
Women’s Coalition -Turkey

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Source: WHRD, July 6 2017

Police raided a human rights activists’ workshop titled “Training for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders”, taking place in Büyükada/Istanbul in the morning of July 5th. The list of detained activists so far include
Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran (Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly);
İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition)
İdil Eser, Veli Acu (Amnesty International - Turkey)
Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association)
Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Monitoring)
Şeyhmuz Özbekli (former Mazlum-Der member)
Ali Garawi (moderator)
The detentions became public by coincidence yesterday evening and there may be at least one more detainee whose name is still unknown. The police give no information about the reason for the detentions.
The State of Emergency Law in Turkey allows the authorities to deny the detainees’ right to see a lawyer up to 24 hours. The lawyers are expected to see the detained human rights activist on July 6th , in the afternoon.

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Source: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/07/director-of-amnesty-international-turkey-must-be-released-from-incommunicado-detention/

Director of Amnesty International Turkey must be released from incommunicado detention

6 July 2017, 02:32 UTC

Responding to the news that Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained on Wednesday along with seven other human rights defenders and two trainers during a digital security and information management workshop in Büyükada, Istanbul, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“We are profoundly disturbed and outraged that some of Turkey’s leading human rights defenders, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey should have been detained so blatantly without cause.

This is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country. Idil Eser and those detained with her, must be immediately and unconditionally released.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

“Her incommunicado detention and that of the other human rights defenders attending a routine training event, is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country. Idil Eser and those detained with her, must be immediately and unconditionally released.

“World leaders currently sitting in Hamburg have been remarkably tolerant of Turkey’s human rights meltdown. With President Erdoğan now in their midst, this would be a good time to speak out firmly and call for the release of all human rights defenders currently behind bars.”
Background

The whereabouts of Idil Eser and the others detained alongside her, are currently unknown.

Idil Eser and the other detainees, are understood to have been denied access to lawyers, which police are entitled to do for 24 hours, and the right to contact a family member, which must be granted immediately.

Police have told lawyers that they will be given information at 2.30pm today.

In addition to Idil Eser, the seven human rights defenders detained were: 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, Veli Acu, Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two foreign trainers – a German and a Swedish national – as well as the hotel owner, were also detained.

These detentions come less than a month after Amnesty International’s Turkey chair, Taner Kiliç, was remanded in prison custody on baseless charges.

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Source: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/tell-erdogan-free-amnesty-turkey-idil-eser-and-nine-others/

TO TAKE ACTION:

sign here

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty Turkey’s Director Idil Eser and nine others

Police have detained the second Amnesty International Turkey leader within the space of a month.

Yesterday morning, police arrested eight human rights defenders and two trainers who were attending a workshop in Istanbul.

For over 24 hours, they weren’t allowed to contact their families or see a lawyer - and no one even knew where they were.

Idil and the others were doing nothing wrong. Some are now being questioned on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organisation": a ridiculous and baseless accusation.

This kind of attack on Human Rights Defenders is becoming more frequent. Erdogan’s government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.
The Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all ten detainees.

The eight human rights defenders detained are İdil Eser (Amnesty International), İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Şeyhmuz Özbekli (lawyer), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association).

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Source: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/turkey-detention-eight-human-rights-defenders

About the situation

On 5 July 2017, eight human rights defenders, along with two consultants, were detained on Buyukada island, off the coast of Istanbul in Turkey. Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan and were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Two consultants, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, were also detained. It is believed that Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are being held in Buyukada Police Station. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unknown.

About the HRDs

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idel Eser is the director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women’s Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

6 July 2017
Detentions Extended

On 6 July 2017, eight human rights defenders and two consultants had their detentions extended to seven days following their arrests a day earlier on Bayukada island, off the coast of Istanbul. Seven days is the maximum period of time permitted for detainees to be held without charge under Turkey’s State of Emergency. On 5 July, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan and were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, two consultants in attendance at the workshop, were also detained.
5 July 2017
Turkey: Detention of eight human rights defenders

On 5 July 2017, eight human rights defenders, along with two consultants, were detained on Buyukada island, off the coast of Istanbul in Turkey. Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan and were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Two consultants, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, were also detained. It is believed that Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are being held in Buyukada Police Station. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unknown.

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idel Eser is the director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women’s Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

On the morning of 5 July 2017 the Ascot hotel, a venue where a workshop organised by the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly for Turkish human rights defenders on the island of Buyukada, was raided by Turkish police. All of the participants were arrested and subsequently moved to detention centres. It is believed that the two consultants, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, continue to be held incommunicado on the island of Buyukada. Lawyers have thus far been denied access to the two men. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unconfirmed, although it is believed that they have been moved from Buyukada to Istanbul.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned by the arrests of the above mentioned eight human rights defenders and two consultants as it believed that they have been detained in relation to their work in the defence of human rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner ;

3. Ensure that the treatment of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

4. Immediately inform the family and lawyers of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan of the place of their detention, and allow them immediate and unfettered access to them, and permit the lawyers of Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner immediate and unfettered access to them.

5. Cease targeting all human rights defenders in Turkey and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.