Celebrities join call on Turkey to release human rights activists
World-famous celebrities have demanded the release of a group of prominent human rights activists detained 100 days ago by Turkish authorities.
More than 20 artists and celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, Whoopi Goldberg and Zach Galifianakis, signed a letter sent by Amnesty International USA to the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. They join a list of other celebrities including Annie Lennox, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Angélique Kidjo and Patrick Stewart, demanding the release of the activists that include Amnesty International’s Turkey Director İdil Eser and its chair, Taner Kılıç.
Ten activists were detained during a meeting on Istanbul’s Büyükada Island on July 5, following Kılıç’s arrest a month earlier.
An Istanbul prosecutor has completed an indictment against 11 activists, demanding up to 15 years in jail on terror charges for the suspects, Doğan News Agency reported on Oct. 8.
“One hundred days ago our colleagues were locked up for standing up for human rights. Every passing day further exposes the long reach of the post-coup crackdown and the deep flaws in Turkey’s justice system,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director.
“The indictment is a toxic mix of innuendo and untruth which does not stand up to the slightest scrutiny. It repeats ludicrous and contradictory allegations which have no place in any self-respecting courtroom,” he added.
In the coming days, Amnesty International activists in more than 25 countries will hold more than 200 parties and stunts to mark Eser’s birthday.
The rights group said it would range from a birthday party in the European Parliament to a press conference in a makeshift prison in Madrid, adding that full-size paper cutouts of Eser will be present at the activities to highlight her absence.
“Rounding up human rights defenders was clearly intended to send a message that dissent will not be tolerated. But the courage of İdil Eser and her colleagues and the support they have garnered around the world has sent a brighter message: that critical voices cannot be silenced,” said Dalhuisen.
Police raided the meeting on Büyükada on July 5 during which the activists were holding a “digital security and information management workshop,” according to Amnesty.
An Istanbul court later ordered the arrest of eight activists on accusations of “aiding a terror group,” while the other two were released on a judicial control order and banned from traveling abroad.
Earlier in June, Kılıç had been arrested on charges of having links to Fethullah Gülen’s network, widely believed to have been behind last year’s failed coup.
The seven other activists included in the indictment are İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, Günal Kurşun and Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association, Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizen’s Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights and lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli.