13 July 2017

Justice and Peace Netherlands Calls on Turkish Authorities to Free Human Rights Defenders

Statement

Justice and Peace Netherlands is denouncing the baseless accusations leveled against ten peaceful human rights defenders and trainers detained in Turkey.

18/07/2017 This morning the tribunal in Turkey decided to maintain 6 out of the 10 HRDs in prison. The director of Amnesty Turkey will remain detained as well as the 2 trainers. 4 have been released under judicial control. Read more

On Wednesday, July 5, another dark chapter was added to a long series of rights violations that Turkey seems to have embarked on in recent years.

On that morning the police arrested eight human rights activists, and two trainers as they were attending a digital security workshop in Istanbul. They were held incommunicado for over 24 hours, their families and friends not able to know where or how they were.

They were later investigated on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organization", a baseless charge that Justice and Peace Netherlands denounces emphatically.

Their names: İdil Eser (Amnesty International), İlknur Üstün (Women's Coalition), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nalan Erkem,(Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly), Şeyhmuz Özbekli (lawyer), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association), Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant, a Swedish national), and Peter Steudtner (nonviolence trainer, a German national).

Soon after their arrest, a smear campaign was launched against them on pro-government media in Turkey. The campaign has sadly become a pattern to defame government critics and foreigners.

Justice and Peace Netherlands has, in the course of its almost 5 decade-long existence, come across the work of some of those detained today in Turkey. Their nonviolent and valuable work reflects our philosophy entirely: that people must be able to peacefully change their world themselves. They must, therefore, be able to develop knowledge, skills and ability. The ten human rights defenders were doing exactly that. They were doing nothing wrong. They were exercising their right.

Justice and Peace Netherlands calls on the Turkish authorities to drop the charges and release all ten rights defenders now and without conditions.