Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on today’s (7 November) trial in Istanbul against Taner Kiliç, Honorary Chair of Amnesty International’s Turkey section, and the human rights defenders known as the “Istanbul 10”:
For more than a year, Taner Kiliç and ten other human rights defenders have been the subjects of an indictment.
Today’s trial proceedings again failed to bring to light any evidence that could substantiate the accusations against them. Far from it. This controversial court case long ago came to symbolise action against an independent civil society. It is high time for a clear verdict – because if those accused cannot be proven guilty of a criminal act, they must be immediately acquitted.
The human rights activist Taner Kiliç was arrested in Izmir on 6 June 2017 and three days later a court ordered that he be placed in pre-trial detention. Taner Kiliç, whom the Turkish public prosecution office has accused of membership in a terrorist organisation, was released from custody on 15 August 2018. On 26 October 2017, he was included in the indictment for the “Istanbul 10” case.
The “Istanbul 10”, which includes Amnesty International’s former Turkey Director İdil Eser, and the German human rights activist Peter Steudtner, were arrested on the island of Büyükada near Istanbul on 5 July 2017. All those arrested had been taking part in a routine workshop for human rights defenders there. The public prosecution office has accused them of membership of or support for terrorist organisations. Initially, everyone concerned was taken into pre-trial detention but then on 25 October 2017 a court ordered their release for the duration of the proceedings. Conditions were imposed on two of the accused. The two foreigners charged, Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharavi, were then able to leave Turkey.
Today, the court case against the defendants was adjourned until 21 March 2019.