AI reacts detention of lawyer Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey

Lawyer Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s (AI) Secretary General, has reacted against the detention of lawyer Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, on Tuesday in İzmir as part of Turkish government’s massive coup-purge witch hunt in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and stated that “The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become.”

Responding to the news that Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained by police on Tuesday along with 22 other lawyers in İzmir on suspicion of having links with the Gülen movement, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said that “The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. Taner Kılıç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling. ”

“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kılıç along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them,” said Shetty.

Taner Kılıç has served on the board of Amnesty International Turkey for various periods since 2002 and has been Chair since 2014. During his decades of work for human rights organizations in Turkey he has consistently demonstrated an unswerving commitment to human rights and especially refugee issues.

Taner Kılıç was detained from his house in İzmir at 06:30 Tuesday morning before being taken to his office. Both properties were searched. He is currently in police custody in Yeşilyurt district of İzmir.

“At present, Taner Kılıç’s detention does not seem to be connected to any of Amnesty International’s work, nor to be specifically targeting the organization. The detention order refers to an investigation into suspected members of the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization”. It is currently unclear why Taner Kılıç is suspected of having these links,” said the Amnesty International’s statement.

Turkish government have issued sweeping arrest warrants against more than 1000 lawyers within last 10 months on what is believed to be a part of crackdown on critics and opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. So far almost 440 lawyers including prominent criminal law attorneys and heads of provincial Bar Associations were formally arrested while many were forced to self-exile to avoid torture and ill treatment in jails. The government also purged 108 academics including famous law professors from law schools of public universities and fired dozens of government lawyers en masse.

What is more, the authorities also ordered the seizure of all assets of lawyers who faced an arrest although they were not convicted of any crime and there was no indictment filed and no trial hearing held yet. The seizure of assets has deprived family members of their livelihood while lawyers are left languishing behind bars in long pre-trial detentions.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

June 7, 2017

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