Ahead of the pending trial against the former director of Amnesty International’s Turkish section, Taner Kılıç, and the human rights defenders known as the Istanbul 10, French Ambassador at Large for Human Rights François Croquette and Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office Bärbel Kofler issued the following statement today (2 July 2020):
The controversial trial against Taner Kılıç and the group known as the Istanbul 10 is an example of the pressure currently faced by Turkish civil society. Our latest online discussion with human rights defenders from Turkey made that clear once again.
No one in Turkey should have to fear punishment when there is no sound evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Legitimate human rights engagement must not be classed anywhere as a crime! We would like to reiterate that a free and dynamic civil society and an independent judiciary form the most important cornerstones of an open democracy.
We welcome the latest verdict by the Turkish Constitutional Court in favour of Selahattin Demirtaş. We expect the Turkish Government to take further steps towards greater rule of law and the upholding of fundamental rights and freedoms, which Turkey, too, has pledged at international level to uphold.
The former director of Amnesty International’s Turkish section, Taner Kılıç, was arrested in Izmir on 6 June 2017. The Public Prosecutor’s Office accused him of “membership of a terrorist organisation”. His trial has been combined with the one against the Istanbul 10, including the former director of Amnesty International’s Turkish section, Idil Eser, and the German human rights activist Peter Steudtner. They were arrested on Büyükada island off Istanbul on 5 July 2017. All those arrested had been taking part in a routine workshop for human rights defenders there. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has accused them of membership of or support for terrorist organisations. The trial will continue on 3 July 2020.
Selahattin Demirtaş, former leader of the HDP opposition party, was arrested on 4 November 2016 along with other HDP MPs and has been in prison ever since. In a ruling on 20 November 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ordered that Demirtaş be released from remand and that compensation of €25,000 be paid. A decision in the appellate court is pending. On 19 June 2020, a ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court was announced, by which Demirtaş is entitled to compensation of 50,000 lira because of the disproportionate length of time he has spent on remand.
On 30 June 2020, Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler and Ambassador at Large for Human Rights François Croquette held a video conference with human rights defenders from Turkey to learn more about the current situation in the country.