Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (30 January) on the trial against Taner Kiliç and the human rights defenders known as the Istanbul 10:
I continue to follow with great interest and grave concern the proceedings against Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, as well as the human rights defenders known in the media as the Istanbul 10. Strong NGOs and courageous, independent lawyers are absolutely essential in any democratic state. How the state deals with their work is a yardstick for measuring the rule of law and freedom in a community.
On 31 January 2018, the proceedings will be resumed in Istanbul and I call on the Turkish judiciary to grant all defendants a fair and transparent trial in line with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. If evidence is not provided to substantiate the charges brought by the public prosecution office, then Taner Kiliç must be released immediately from pre-trial detention and the charges against everyone concerned dropped.
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 of a terrorist organisation, is still in Sakran prison in Izmir province. On 26 October 2017, he was included in the indictment for the Istanbul 10 case.
The Istanbul 10, which includes Amnesty International’s 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.
The proceedings against the 11 human rights defenders continue and they face a sentence of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Their next court appearance is scheduled for 31 January 2018.