Swedish FM Wallström slams arrest of six human righst defenders in Turkey

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström

Margot Wallström, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, has reacted on the arrest of human righst defenders in Turkey and stated that “The (Swedish) Government is very concerned about developments in Turkey, not least in terms of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

Releasing a written statement through her Acting Press Secretary Adriana Haxhimustafa, Swedish Foreign Minister Wallström said that “The Government takes a very serious view of the arrest of the Swedish human rights activist Ali Gharavi and the continued detention of him and the other activists arrested in Turkey on 5 July. We are working very intensively to establish some clarity concerning the arrest and are clear in our expectations of Turkey.”

Underlining the fact that Gharavi was in Turkey to take part in a peaceful seminar on internet freedom and human rights, Wallström has added that “We have urged Turkey to promptly clarify the grounds for the accusations against him. We continue to work in close cooperation with Germany.”

Reminding that “The Government is very concerned about developments in Turkey, not least in terms of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Wallström said that “These detentions are a continuation of an extended period of measures against representatives of human rights organisations. A thriving civil society, as well as free media and a free opposition, are prerequisites for a pluralistic and democratic society.”

“The Government regularly expresses its concern over developments in Turkey to Turkish representatives in Stockholm and Ankara,” said Wallström and added that “We also push for these issues to be addressed in other contexts, such as in the EU and the Council of Europe. We will continue to exert pressure both bilaterally and together with other countries.”

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.

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 Gharavi and Peter Steudtner. The accusation leveled against them was “abetting a terrorist organization.”

July 20, 2017

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