Over 40 members of Congress recently sent a letter urging President Trump to call on Turkish officials to stop the prosecution of human rights defenders, drop charges against Taner Kılıç and the Istanbul 10, and immediately and unconditionally release those still in detention. This letter was co-sponsored by Representatives Randy Hultgren and Jim McGovern.
It states: “If these prosecutions are allowed to move forward without a clear response from the United States government, a precedent will be set that will not only threaten the legitimate work of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, but will also embolden authoritarian regimes around the world. The Turkish government must understand that business as usual cannot continue under these conditions. The costs for human rights in Turkey – and for human rights around the world – will be immensely and unacceptably high.”
“We welcome Congressional support for Taner and the Istanbul 10, especially in light of the court’s decision to keep Taner behind bars. When human rights defenders are attacked for speaking up for fundamental rights, all our freedoms are put at risk,” said Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. “Peaceful activists must be allowed to do their important work without fear of arrest or persecution in order to ensure a stable society with rights for all.”
“The world is watching as Turkish authorities continue to unfairly prosecute activists, journalists, and lawyers as part of a massive crackdown on civil society. Amnesty continues to call on Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kılıç and drop the absurd charges against him and the Istanbul 10.”
Taner and the Istanbul 10 face baseless terror charges in a politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within the country. If convicted, they could face prison terms of up to 15 years.
On November 22, the Istanbul Court decided to continue the pre-trial detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç. The next court hearing has been set for January 31, 2018.
More than 50,000 people in Turkey who have been imprisoned since the attempted coup, with most charged under terror laws with no clear evidence against them.