UPDATE: 10 human rights defenders in Turkey arrested and charged with “aiding armed terrorist organisation”

Alerts, Shrinking Space for Civil Society, Turkey

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EuroMed Rights strongly condemns recent developments concerning 10 human rights defenders, who were arrested, detained without the presence of a lawyer in the first 30 hours, and later charged on 18 July with “aiding armed terrorist organisation”.

Following their arrest on 5 July 2017, they were accused of being members of an illegal-armed organisation under the provision of Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. Six of them, including Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are still in pre-trial detention as the judge expressed “there was a strong suspicion that the detainees committed the crime” and because of “possibility of escape“; four others, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan, were released but are subject to a travel ban and other judicial restrictions. After the Public Prosecutor appealed against the Court’s decision, an arrest warrant was issued for four human rights defenders. While Nalan Erkem and Ilknur Ustun were detained on 23 July 2017, Nejat Tastan and Seyhmuz Ozbekli were released by the Court on 25 July 2017.

The German declaration calls the detention of Peter Steudtner, a German national, as well as other human rights activists, “incomprehensible, unacceptable and utterly inexplicable”. We encourage further Turkey-partnering countries, including the EU, to take a stance against increasing human rights violations and demand the end to this repression in Turkey. Since the state of emergency was established just over a year ago, these developments are yet another step towards restricting the freedom of expression and muzzling the already weakened civil society organisations.

The arrest of 10 human rights defenders has no justification; their detention goes against the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; and the charges bear no criminal activities and are on the contrary linked with their work of defending human rights in Turkey.

We call on Turkish authorities to end this growing repression of human rights and on the international community to condemn these arrests and demand Turkey to respect human rights and the rule of law.