European Union expresses concern about detention of Amnesty’s Kılıç

Lawyer Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey.

The European Union on Thursday expressed concern about the recent detention of Taner Kılıç, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, as part of a witch-hunt targeting people linked to the Gülen movement.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to clarify the charges swiftly, in line with the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights,” the spokesperson for European Union External Action (EEAS) said in a statement published on their website.

“In particular, it is important to fully respect the presumption of innocence. Amnesty International is an internationally highly respected member of civil society which is a key pillar of democracy,” added the statement.

The statement also underlined that the EU is monitoring the ongoing procedure closely.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday has also called on Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kılıç, who has been under detention since June 6. “Turkey should release Taner Kılıç, who is a tireless defender of human rights, known for his support for Amnesty International over many years,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Detaining Kılıç on suspicion of terrorist offenses looks like a tactic aimed at discrediting his legitimate human rights work.”

In a similar statement on Wednesday, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “The United States is deeply concerned by the recent detention of Taner Kiliç, Chair of Amnesty International Turkey — the latest in a series of respected human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and activists detained in Turkey.”

Meanwhile, human rights organizations in Turkey have released a joint statement and demanded that the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, refugee rights defender and lawyer Taner Kılıç to be released. In the joint statement, the member organizations of the Turkey’s Human Rights Joint Platform, such as Human Rights Association, Human Rights Agenda Association, International Amnesty Turkey Branch and Citizenship Association, have requested that the unlawful practice to be ended.

Kılıç was detained at his home in the western Turkish city of İzmir along with 22 other lawyers.

A military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s 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. (SCF with June 8, 2017

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