Istanbul Heavy Penal Court has sentenced Taner Kılıç, former chair of Amnesty Turkey, to 6 years and 3 months under Article 314 § 2 of Turkish Penal Code which stipulates the membership of an armed terrorist organisation.
İdil Eser former director of Amnesty Turkey, Özlem Dalkıran of Citizens’ Assembly and Günal Kurşun of the Human Rights Agenda Association were all convicted for 25 months for assisting a terrorist organisation.
‘This verdict is a crushing blow not only for Taner, Özlem, İdil and Günal and their families but for everyone who believes in justice, and human rights activism in Turkey and beyond. It is tragic to see the part the Turkish justice system has played and continues to play in criminalizing the act of standing up for human rights ‘ said Andrew Gardner from Amnesty International.
“The decision of the court is staggering. During 12 court hearings, each and every allegation has been comprehensively exposed as a baseless slur. The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices it was from day one. This case has been a litmus test for the Turkish justice system. As such, it is tragic to see the part it has played and continues to play in criminalizing the act of standing up for human rights. We will continue to stand with our friends and colleagues as they appeal these shameful verdicts.” said in a statement by Amnesty International.
ABOUT THE CASE
Taner Kılıç, then chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested at his home in Izmir in the early hours of 6 June 2017.
Lawyer Taner Kilic who is chair of Amnesty International Turkey branch and other 22 lawyers were taken into custody on 6th June 2017, in Izmir. Then, Taner Kilic and 15 other lawyers were arrested and 6 lawyers were released with judicial control rule.
Without any evidence, the authorities claimed that Taner had downloaded “ByLock”, a secure messaging application which has been the main evidence since 2016 against more than 90,000 thousand people who have been accused of membership of the armed terrorist organization.
Nearly a month later, on 5 July, ten human rights defenders (the ‘Istanbul 10’) were detained from a hotel on the island of Büyükada in Istanbul where they were taking part in a workshop on wellbeing and digital security. The authorities accused them of taking part in a secret meeting. Eight of the ten defenders were remanded in prison on the basis of these allegations.
The eight (of 12) human rights defenders, İdil Eser (former director of Amnesty Turkey), Günal Kurşun and Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer), Nalan Erkem (Citizens Assembly) and İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition) have been arrested on 18th and 22nd of July 2017.
İdil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Veli Acu, Ali Gharavi, Peter Steudtner, Nalan Erkem and İlknur Üstün spent 99 days in pre-trial detention before they were released on bail at the first hearing in the case on 25 October 2017 in Istanbul.
The court also requested that Taner’s prosecution be transferred to Istanbul and be merged with that of the Istanbul 10, alleging that Taner had directed the “secret Büyükada meeting” even though he had been in prison at the time it took place. At Taner’s first hearing in Izmir which took place the next day on 26 October, the court accepted the Istanbul court’s request for the transfer, merging the two separate prosecutions into one single case in Istanbul. The court also ruled to continue Taner’s pre-trial detention. The case has since been dubbed the ‘Büyükada trial’.
The prosecutor added information and documents found on computers seized from the Istanbul 10 showing the legitimate human rights activism. These included: a campaign to stop the sale of tear gas to Turkey along with other Amnesty International documents, making a grant application for a human rights project, and campaigning for the release from detention of hunger-striking teachers.
Amnesty International has compiled a detailed analysis of the indictment, addressing each of the allegations made against the 11 defendants.
Categories: Unjust / Wrongful Convictions