Turkey: Judicial farce must end with acquittal of human rights defenders

Amnesty International delegation to attend trial of organization’s Turkey honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, and the Istanbul 10, including former Amnesty Turkey director Idil Eser 

Almost two years after they were first arrested, two prominent figures from Amnesty International Turkey and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted of the absurd charges they still face, said Amnesty International ahead of their trial which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 
Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and İdil Eser, the organization’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other activists on baseless allegations of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.  
“After almost two years and without a shred of credible evidence presented to substantiate the absurd charges made against them, it is now time to end this judicial farce and acquit Taner and the Istanbul 10,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. 
“Over the course of six trial hearings, the prosecutor’s case against the human rights defenders has been comprehensively disproven. The court must now finally lift the threat of conviction that needlessly hangs over their heads and put an end to their ordeal.”  
Taner Kılıç spent more than 14 months in prison before his release on bail in August 2018. Eight of the Istanbul 10 spent almost four months each behind bars before they were bailed in October 2017.  
“Taner and the Istanbul 10 have dedicated their lives to defending the rights of others and are potent symbols of what is happening under the government’s relentless crackdown in Turkey today,” said Kumi Naidoo. 
“Human rights defenders in Turkey spend their days either languishing in jail or living in constant fear of prosecution and imprisonment. The Istanbul 10 and Taner should be exonerated and all those jailed merely for defending human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
For more information or to arrange an interview on the ground or in London contact  Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca 
The hearing is scheduled to start at 06.30 GMT, 21 March at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, No 35. For live updates from the court follow @MilenaBuyum @andrewegardner @KateAllenAI
An international delegation of senior Amnesty International representatives from around the world are attending the hearing in Istanbul including: Gabriele Stein, Chair of AI Germany; Kate Allen, Director of AI UK; Ingvild Gjone Lyberg, Deputy Director of AI Norway; Markus Widorski, Board Member of AI Switzerland.