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This week, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim will visit Washington for a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. They are expected to discuss economics, among other issues. Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA, issued this statement:

“The Prime Minister’s visit to Washington takes place during an unprecedented crackdown on human rights in Turkey. Although the Istanbul 10 have already been released on bail, Taner Kılıç remains behind bars. He and the Istanbul 10 still face up to 15 years in prison on absurd terror charges.

“Defending human rights is not a crime. No country should arbitrarily silence and detain critics. It is time for Vice President Pence and other members of the administration to publicly urge Prime Minister Yildrim to ensure all charges against Taner Kılıç and the Istanbul 10 are dropped immediately.”

There is a bipartisan consensus in Congress that Turkey must uphold human rights in order to remain a partner of the United States.

Recently, 14 Senators expressed alarm over the arrest of the chair and director of Amnesty International Turkey while urging President Trump to “send a clear message to President Erdogan that…any cooperation must be based on a shared commitment to human rights and rule of law”. Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Bernie Sanders, Martin Heinreich, Richard Durbin, Benjamin Cardin, Christopher Coons, Chris Van Hollen, John Boozman, Edward Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Robert Menendez, and Jeanne Shaheen cosigned this letter.

Eight additional members of Congress with the U.S. Helsinki Commission recently called on Turkey to lift the state of emergency, immediately restore Turkey’s commitment to international standards of due process and judicial independence, and cease manipulating terror charges to prosecute human rights defenders, including Taner Kılıç and the Istanbul 10.

Additionally, over 20 artists and celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, and Zach Galifianakis, have joined Amnesty International USA in urging the government of Turkey to unconditionally release Amnesty’s Turkey Director İdil Eser and Chair Taner Kiliç.