Observatory calls on immediate release of Turkish human rights defenders
July 7, 2017
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and detention of eight human rights defenders, namely: Ms. Nalan Erkem, lawyer with the Citizens Assembly, Ms. Özlem Dalkıran, member of the Citizens Assembly, Ms. İlknur Üstün, member of the Women’s Coalition, Ms. Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Mr. Günal Kurşun, lawyer with the Human Rights Agenda Association, Mr. Veli Acu, member of the Human Rights Agenda Association, Mr. Nejat Taştan, member of Equal Rights Watch Association, Mr. Şeyhmuz Özbekli, trainee lawyer and member of the Rights Initiative, as well as Mr. Ali Gharawi and Mr. Peter Steudtner, security consultants.
According to the information received, on July 5, 2017, the eight human rights defenders were arrested following a police raid during a digital security and information management workshop organised by the Citizens Assemblyin Büyükada, Istanbul. As of publication of this Urgent Appeal, the eight human rights defenders were being detained in different police stations across town and scheduled to be transferred on July 7, 2017 to Istanbul Directorate of Security on Vatan Street.
Under Turkey’s state of emergency, they will not be given access to their lawyers and family for at least 24 hours.On July 6, 2017, after 24 hours, their detention was extended for seven days.
It has been reported that they are being investigated for “membership of an illegal-armed organisation” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code by the Istanbul Security Directorate.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concerns over this new wave of arbitrary arrests targeting human rights defenders for the exercise of their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities and obstacles to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly.
The Observatory urges Turkish authorities to grant Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner immediate access to their lawyers and to immediately and unconditionally release them.
Please write to the authorities in Turkey, urging them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi, and Peter Steudtner as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Immediately allow Nalan Erkem, Özlem Dalkıran, İlknur Üstün, Idil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu, Nejat Taştan, Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Ali Gharawi, and Peter Steudtner to access their family and lawyers and guarantee their right to due process and a fair trial;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.