Amnesty International: Turkey’s judicial farce against human rights defenders continues

A Turkish court’s decision to postpone the trial of Turkish human rights defenders who are facing terrorism charges shows that the judicial farce in Turkey is continuing, Amnesty International (AI) said on Wednesday.

Taner Kılıç, Amnesty International Turkey’s honorary chair, its former director İdil Eser and nine other human rights defenders are standing trial, which, according to international human rights organizations, is proof of the Turkish government’s crackdown on civil society.

Apart from Kılıç, the rest of the human right defenders, who were detained on charges of spying and terrorism, were released last year. Eight of them spent 113 days in prison before being released.

Kılıç, who is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” was released in August after 14 months in prison. The main evidence against Kılıç is his use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen, and even housewives have either been dismissed or arrested for allegedly using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The court on Wednesday postponed the trial until March 2019 and declined to lift Kılıç’s travel ban.

“The farce continues for these human rights defenders who are facing absurd terrorism charges,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey strategy and research manager, said, adding that the charges against human rights defenders were proven to be untrue in previous hearings.

“The trial has now been heard in six separate hearings. Dragging out proceedings in politically motivated cases is nothing new. It is a deliberate tactic forcing innocent human rights defenders to suffer a tortuous wait with the threat of conviction under terrorism charges hanging over their heads,” Gardner said. (SCF with Ahval)

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