While members and activists demonstrated outside, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, met with the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, and asked her to urgently raise the issue of jailed human rights defenders at her meeting with the Turkish Foreign Affairs and EU Ministers later today. Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç are currently in detention facing terrorism related charges.
Shetty met with Mogherini in Brussels this morning and presented her with a petition calling on her to use to her influence to help secure the immediate release of the 10 human rights defenders jailed earlier this month. He then joined scores of activists at a protest outside the European Commission building, the centerpiece of which was 10 giant figures representing those jailed.
“This morning I met with Federica Mogherini and presented her with a petition of nearly 900,000 signatures collected in a matter of days calling on her to use her influence to help ensure the immediate and unconditional release of our Amnesty International colleagues and the other human rights defenders jailed in Turkey. We expect her to raise their cases with Ministers Çavuşoğlu and Çelik in the context of growing concerns about the deterioration of the respect for the rule of law and human rights in Turkey,” said Shetty.
“Whilst world leaders are starting to speak out, this is not just an issue for politicians. Defending human rights is not a crime, but it is fast becoming one in Turkey and it is incumbent on everyone who believes in fundamental freedoms to make clear that the crossing of this red line cannot be tolerated. We only have a small window of opportunity to stop this now, before there’s no one left to stand up for what’s right.”
The number of signers of the petition has now reached 1 million.
Protesters gathered on the Schuman roundabout opposite the European Commission building, including the partners of jailed activists Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner.
“For me this is personal. My husband Ali and my dear friends Peter and Ozlem are in jail,” said Laressa Dickey, Ali Gharavi’s wife. “He is a beautiful soul and we thank you for your support. We will not stop until they are released. Nobody is free until everybody is free.”