US, Germany condemn arrests of human rights activists urge Turkey to release them

The Uninted States (US) administration and Germany have strongly condemned Turkish government over arrest of six human rights defenders.

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert “strongly condemned” Turkey during daily briefing for its recent arrest of six human right activists and urged Turkish authorities to “drop the charges, release those who have been detained, and remove the provisions of the state of emergency that allow indiscriminate prosecution of individuals.”

Nauert has stated that “You may have seen what took place in Turkey in recent days, and the United States strongly condemns the arrest of six respected human rights activists and calls for their immediate release. This includes Amnesty International’s director in Turkey, İdil Eser, and several foreign nationals.”

Underlining that “Prosecutions like these with little evidence or transparency undermine Turkey’s rule of law and the country’s obligations to respect individual rights,” Nauert had added that “We urge Turkish authorities to drop the charges, release those who have been detained, and remove the provisions of the state of emergency that allow indiscriminate prosecution of individuals. So we will continue to keep an eye on that.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also condemned the arrest of six human rights activists including a German in Turkey and pledged to work for his release. In unscheduled remarks at a ceremony for athletes on Tuesday, Merkel said the case was another example of innocent people being “caught up in the wheels of the justice system.”
Six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey director İdil 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 pre-trial arrest by an İstanbul court on Tuesday.

Merkel said Steudtner’s arrest was absolutely unjustified. “We declare our solidarity with him and all the others arrested … the German government will do all it can, on all levels, to secure his release.”

German foreign ministry also called on Turkey to release six activists immediately in a statement and underlined the significance of the organizations such as AI to contribute “plurality, democracy and protection of human rights in Turkey.”

“Linking a fighter and spokesman for human rights and democracy like Peter Steudtner to supporters of terrorists is absurd,” the statement said.

Also, it was reported that Germany has summoned the Turkish ambassador to protest Ankara’s arrest of six human rights activists including a German, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Martin Schaefer said during a regular government news conference that Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had interrupted his summer vacation and returned to Berlin for government consultations. Schaefer said it was “absurd” that Turkey had remanded one of the activists in custody on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

On Wednesday, the Human Rights Association (İHD) and Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) have issued a joint statement concerning the arrested six human rights advocates. İHD co-Chair Öztürk Türkdoğan and TİHV Secretary General Metin Bakkalcı said that 14-day arbitrary detention period for the rights defenders and the illegalities during the period prove that there is no “armed organization” as claimed the prosecutor’s office.

It was said in the statement that works of rights defenders have been obstructed by Turkish government in order to prevent the human rights organizations to determine and reflect the rights violations under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Turkey Director İdil Eser was kept in solitary confinement for 24 hours and denied access to medication within this period, according to a tweet posted by Gauri Van Gulik, deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International. Gulik also said that Eser was allowed to see her lawyer only one hour in a week.

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.”

July 19, 2017

 

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