Turkey: Judicial farce must end with acquittal of human rights defenders

6 November 2018, 11:34 UTC
Updated: 6 November 2018, 11:30 UTC

Almost a year-and-a-half after they were first arrested, and still facing absurd charges, Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, former Director and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted, said Amnesty International as their trial resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 

Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, andİdil Eser, the organisation’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other human rights defenders on baseless allegations of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.  

“Without a shred of credible evidence presented to substantiate the absurd charges made against them, it is now time to end this judicial farce and acquit these women and men who have dedicated their lives to defending the rights of others,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. 

“These human rights defenders have cumulatively spent more than three years behind bars. Nothing can bring back that time, but the court can now finally lift the threat of conviction that has needlessly hung over their heads.”  

During five previous trial hearings, every aspect of the prosecutor’s case against the human rights defenders has been comprehensively disproven. Yet the Turkish authorities appear willing to drag the case out as far possible. 

Taner Kılıç, spent more than 14 months in prison before his release on bail in August. Eight of the Istanbul 10 spent almost four months each behind bars before they were bailed in October 2017.  

Taner and the Istanbul 10 are potent symbols of what is happening under the relentless crackdown in Turkey today,” said Kumi Naidoo. 

“Rather than being lauded and supported, human rights defenders spend their days either languishing in jail or living in constant fear of prosecution and imprisonment. The Istanbul 10 and Taner should be acquitted and all those jailed in Turkey merely for defending human rights, must be released.”


The hearing will begin at 06.30 GMT, 7 November at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, No 34. For live updates from the court follow @MilenaBuyum, @andrewegardner @KateAllenAI @ColmOCuanachain @ClareAlgar @stefsimanowitz and @JohnPeder

An international delegation of senior Amnesty International representatives from around the world are attending the hearing in Istanbul including: Gabriele Stein, Chair of AI Germany; Kate Allen, Director of AI UK; John Peder Egenæs, Director of AI Norway; Pierre Antoine Schorderet, Chair of AI Switzerland; Gabriel Sakellaridis, Director of AI Greece.