Head of Amnesty International visits jailed Turkey director in infamous Silivri Prison

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty has eventually visited the international rights group’s jailed Turkey director İdil Eser and called for her release, along with seven other activists being held in pre-trial detention for allegedly aiding a terror group.

Shetty has told reporters on Saturday outside the infamous Silivri Prison in İstanbul that jailed human rights activist Eser was doing well. He has also said that “The real issue is why she is currently imprisoned when they were not doing anything illegal. These people are in prison only for their human rights work and should immediately be released.”

As İdil Eser does not have any first-degree relatives, she is reportedly not allowed any visits other than a one-hour meeting once a week with her lawyers. She is also not allowed to stay with two other arrested rights defenders, Özlem Dalkıran and Nalan Erkem.

According to government decree no. 667 issued under a state of emergency (OHAL) that was put into effect soon after a botched coup attempt in Turkey last July, people who are arrested on terrorism charges can only meet with their immediate family and lawyers once a week.

Eser’s lawyer, Erdal Doğan, said: “İdil Eser’s father and mother are not alive, she has no siblings, she is not married and has no children. According to the OHAL law, nobody can go to visit her. Thus, because of the OHAL law she has no visitors. This is a most serious violation of human rights and the law.”

Reminding that before the existence of OHAL decrees prisoners could give the names of people who would visit them, Doğan said some friends of Eser would file a petition with the prosecutor’s office to ask for permission to visit her.

Six human rights activists, including Eser and German human rights consultant Peter Steudtner, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada, were put in pretrial detention by an İstanbul court on July 18 on charges of “abetting a terrorist organization.”

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt, during a press conference in Hamburg on July 8, and signaled that the detention of the rights defenders could turn into imprisonment.

Earlier in June, Amnesty International’s Turkey chair, Taner Kılıç, was also arrested on charges of having alleged inks to the Gülen movement. Shetty had told Cumhuriyet that this was the first time Amnesty International had ever had two heads in the same country arrested.

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