Human rights defenders in Turkey are jailed for the very work of defending human rights. For most of those detained after the police raid on a routine training session in Istanbul, today marks their 100th day of unjust imprisonment.
Ten activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were arrested on July 5. Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. On October 4, a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd and trumped up terrorism charges. The gimcrack evidence against them largely consists of work they did in defense of human rights in Turkey. Their pretrial detention amounts to nothing more than punishment in advance of any trial, a now routine tactic against those who criticize government abuses.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director noted the grim anniversary, saying:
One hundred days ago our colleagues were locked up for standing up for human rights. Every passing day further exposes the long reach of the post-coup crackdown and the deep flaws in Turkey’s justice system.
The indictment is a toxic mix of innuendo and untruth which does not stand up to the slightest scrutiny. It repeats ludicrous and contradictory allegations which have no place in any self-respecting courtroom.
Today, celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, and Zach Galifianakis joined Amnesty International – USA in calling for their release, saying in a joint letter:
Defending human rights is not a crime. We will continue to fight for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues in Turkey, as well as all other human rights defenders unfairly jailed for their activism.
In the coming days, Amnesty International activists in more than 25 countries will hold more than 200 events to call on Turkey to release the human rights defenders. The events coincide with İdil Eser‘s birthday, which she will spend behind bars. In addition, there will be ways for you to participate through online actions and phone calls. This is how you can take part.
The time is now.