DROI chair calls on Turkey to reverse ongoing crackdown on civil society

Pier Antonio Panzeri. Photo: Vocal Europe

Pier Antonio Panzeri, chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) in the European Parliament, welcomed the release of eight human rights activists by an Istanbul court, calling on Turkey to reverse the ongoing crackdown on civil society representatives, academics and human rights activists.

In light of the İstanbul court ruling on Oct. 25 that resulted in the release of the eight human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director İdil Eser, who had been in pre-trial detention since July 5, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights Panzeri stated on behalf of the subcommittee: “While I welcome the release of the eight activists, pending their trial, I remain gravely concerned about the arrest and detention of several prominent civil society figures and human rights defenders and stress unequivocally that charges against all human rights defenders in Turkey should be dropped.”

Underlining that he “remains disappointed and concerned about many other cases,” Panzeri said: “The continuation of the pre-trial detention of Taner Kılıç, chair of the board of Amnesty International’s Turkey section, was confirmed. Mr Osman Kavala, a well-known and widely respected leading civil society figure was arrested last week, following meetings in Gaziantep. Mr Kavala is the chair of Anadolu Kültür, a cultural institution. His initial period of detention has been extended by a further seven days, and he should be released forthwith.”

“In all cases due process should be guaranteed. Many others in Turkey are also affected by arbitrary detentions or face limited travel rights and revoked passports.”

Calling on Turkish authorities “to reverse the on-going crackdown on civil society representatives, academics and human rights activists,” the DROI chair added: “Turkey should take decisive steps towards re-establishing and consolidating the rule of law. This remains a fundamental condition for advancing with talks on European accession.”

An İstanbul court on Wednesday ruled to release eight human rights activists, including AI’s Turkey Director Eser, who had been in pretrial detention since July 5 over alleged terror links.

During a press conference in Hamburg on July 8, 2017 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the detained human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

A day after the release of the eight activists, a court in Izmir ruled for the continuation of the pre-trial detention of AI’s Kılıç, combining his case with the activists’ Büyükada case.

Osman Kavala was detained by Turkish police upon his arrival at İstanbul Atatürk Airport late on Oct. 18.

President Erdoğan on Tuesday said Kavala was behind the Gezi protests of 2013, calling him Turkey’s George Soros.

“The facts of Turkey’s Soros have been revealed. His connections have been exposed. Who are you trying to fool? The same person is behind the Taksim events [Gezi Park protests]. You can also see those who are behind financial support for some places. We will stand against those who try to hit this nation from within. We will pay them back,” he said. (turkishminute.com)

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