Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (3 July), following the sentencing of Turkish human rights activists belonging to the Istanbul 10:
I find today’s verdicts against Taner Kılıç, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun and Özlem Dalkıran incomprehensible. The prison sentences send a fatal message to all those who work to promote human rights and the rule of law in Turkey. I appeal to the Turkish judiciary to review these sentences swiftly and fairly within the context of the appeal proceedings that have been announced. At the same time, I am relieved about the acquittal of the other seven accused members of the so-called Istanbul 10.
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 accused them of membership of or support for terrorist organisations. On 3 July, Taner Kılıç was sentenced to six years and three months in prison. Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun and Özlem Dalkıran were each sentenced to one year and 13 months of imprisonment. The defendants’ lawyers have announced that they will appeal the verdict.