Amnesty International denies Erdoğan’s accusations about planning a follow-up coup

Amnesty International denied Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s accusation that a group of recently detained human rights defenders were plotting a follow-up to a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 saying that the allegations were not based on concrete evidence.

Amnesty International said in a statement on Saturday that the human rights defenders were holding a briefing meeting when they were detained on Wednesday.

“According to news stories published in several mediums, references were made about Gezi park protests and it was implied that mass rallies are being planned and connections were made with the “March for Justice” launched from Ankara to İstanbul. Those allegations which were made without indicating any evidence and basing on concrete information are totally fabricated,” said Amnesty.

“The allegations in the news can neither be legally accepted nor make sense. It is obvious that those writing these news are trying to justify the pressure put on civil society by Turkish government by finding a cover for illegal detentions, rather than telling the truth.”

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of G20 summit, The Turkish president signaled that the detention of the rights defenders could turn into imprisonment, adding that their meeting was considered by security forces as a follow-up to the July 15 coup bid.

Amnesty said in its statement the detained activists were “esteemed human rights defenders” and that they have to be immediately released in a country where the most fundamental rules of law are functioning.

Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International (AI), İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli and Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two foreign trainers — a German and a Swedish national — as well as the hotel owner, who was later released, were also detained.

AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty in a statement on Wednesday harshly criticized the detention of AI Turkey Director Eser along with the seven other human rights activists, calling it “a grotesque abuse of power.”

US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said the United States is deeply concerned by the detention of human rights defenders in Turkey.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC), on Friday expressed serious concern at the detention of activists calling on the Turkish government to release them immediately.

European Union said in its statement on Friday that the detention of human rights defenders “continues a deeply worrying pattern of imprisonments of a large number of journalists, human rights defenders and members of the democratic opposition in Turkey.”

Also, Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), has expressed that the 10 human rights advocates, who have been detained over “terrorism” charges, must be immediately released. “Detaining some of Turkey’s leading rights activists at a training workshop is a repressive new low for the Turkish state,” said Hugh Williamson.

Williamson said “The Turkish government should ensure their immediate and unconditional release and provide a public explanation of why it is investigating them as members of a terrorist organization”. He said that “The dubious circumstances in which Turkey arrested the rights activists points to the alleged charges being arbitrary and unfounded.” (SCF with July 9, 2017

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