Nov 08 2018

Turkey’s judicial farce against human rights defenders continues - Amnesty International

A Turkish court’s decision to postpone the trials of Turkish human rights defenders who are facing terrorism charges, shows that the judicial farce in Turkey continues, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. 

Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, former Director, İdil Eser, and nine other human rights defenders have been tried in relation to a case, which, according to international human rights organisations, a proof of Turkish government crackdown on civil society.

Apart from Kılıç, the rest of the human right defenders, who were detained over charges of spying and terrorism offences, were released last year. Eight of them spent 113 days in prison, before being released. 

Kılıç, who is charged with "membership of a terrorist organisation”, was released in August after 14 months in prison.  The main evidence against Kılıç was his use of an encrypted chat app called ByLock that Turkish authorities claim was primarily used by the devotees of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, a man Turkish government blames for masterminding a coup attempt in 2016.

A Turkish court yesterday postponed the trial till March 2019 and declined to lift Kılıç’s travel ban.

“The farce continues for these human rights defenders who are facing absurd terrorism charges,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager said, adding that the charges against human rights defenders were proven to be untrue in previous hearings.

“The trial has now been heard in six separate hearings. Dragging out proceedings in politically motivated cases is nothing new. It is a deliberate tactic forcing innocent human rights defenders to suffer a tortuous wait with the threat of conviction under terrorism charges hanging over their heads,” Gardner said.