Turkish prosecutor demands 15 years in jail for human rights defenders

The İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office has drafted an indictment for 11 people including foreign human rights defenders who were detained during a workshop in İstanbul, seeking 15 years each for allegedly for “being a member of an armed terrorist organization and aiding it,” the state-run TRT reported on Sunday.

The indictment has accused the arrested human rights defenders of planning provocative events meant to fuel unrest across Turkey similar to the 2013 Gezi Park protests. The indictment, approved by the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor İrfan Fidan, was later sent to the İstanbul Hight Criminal Court.

The 17-page indictment also said that one of the suspects, Amnesty International’s Turkey section chair Taner Kılıç, who was detained on June 6 in a separate operation in İzmir, was also accused in the same indictment of being a member of the Gülen movement. Kılıç was also charged over his alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock. Kılıç was remanded in custody on June 10 in İzmir province.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and housemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

On July 5 Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International, 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 Şeyhmus Özbekli and Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association, two foreign trainers, Swedish national Ali Garawi and German citizen Peter Steudtner, and the hotel owner. Eight of the 11 people have been under pretrial detention.

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 8 accused the detained human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to the July coup attempt.

One of Turkey’s staunchly pro-government dailies, Star, claimed on July 11  that the CIA and MI6 were behind the meeting at the hotel on Büyükada.

Another pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, on July 23 said the rights activists had ties to the German BND intelligence service.

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.

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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 through government decrees issued as part of the state of emergency. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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