İstanbul court rejects objection to arrest of human rights defenders

The İstanbul 11th Penal Court of Peace on Friday rejected an objection to the arrest of eight human rights defenders who were put in pretrial detention by an İstanbul court on July 18 after being detained during a workshop on İstanbul’s Büyükada.

The court ruled for the continuation of the pretrial detention of the human rights defenders, including Amnesty International (AI) Turkey Director İdil Eser, claiming that the evidence was adequate for the continuation of the arrests.

Turkey’s arrest of human rights activists received much criticism from European Union countries, further endangering Turkey’s membership accession and weakening its ties with Europe.

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 on July 8.

İstanbul’s Adalar Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for four human rights defenders who were released on judicial probation on Tuesday after they were detained along with six others on July 5 during a workshop on İstanbul’s Büyükada. Detention warrants were issued for Nalan Erkem, Şeyhmus Özbekli, Nejat Taştan and İlknur Üstün.

Six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey director İdil Eser, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada, were put in pre-trial arrest by an İstanbul court on Tuesday. The court however ordered the release of the four on judicial probation and banned them from international travel.

Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained Eser from 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 among the detainees.

After being interrogated at the anti-terror branch of the İstanbul Police Department on the 12th day of their detention, 10 human rights defenders who are accused of membership in a terrorist organization were referred to the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan on Monday morning. Six of the human rights activists were subsequently arrested while the court decided to release four of them on judicial probation. The court overseeing their case ruled to arrest Eser along with five other activists: Dalkıran, Acu, Kurşun, trainees Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner. The accusation leveled against them was “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 on July 8. The court released Erkem, Özbekli, Taştan and Üstün on judicial probation.

Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and chairman of AI’s Turkey’s board, was earlier arrested on June 9, accused of links to the alleged mastermind of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Fethullah Gülen, who has denied any involvement.

A controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement and initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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