Council of Europe Secretary General expresses concerns over recent arrests of activists in Turkey
AP photoCoE Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland spoke to PM Yıldırım over the phone late July 19 to express his concerns over the arrest of human rights activists as well as the situation of two educators who have been on hunger strike for 134 days in prison.
In a statement released on July 20, Jagland announced that he had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister late on July 19 and the Secretary-General had first noted the first anniversary of the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.
Jagland added that he expressed his concerns to Yıldırım over the situation of the two imprisoned educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça who have been on hunger strike for over 134 days after they had been dismissed from their jobs by a state of emergency decree in 2016.
“Both are kept in pre-trial detention and are now in considerable ill health due to their ongoing hunger strike. I had previously called for their release and continue to do so,” Jagland said calling out the two educators to stop their strike.
“But I also appeal to Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça to stop their hunger strike. I want them to be assured that their voices have been heard. They now need to be in good health to effectively defend their rights. I urge the people who are close to them to help them bring their hunger strike to an end,” Jagland stated.
Their cases should be dealt with “as a matter of priority, taking into account the particularly worrying health situation,” he urged the new commission, which was established as a solution to the blockage of domestic remedies to the state of emergency procedures.
Imprisonment of human rights defenders
Jagland also conveyed his most serious concerns in regards to the imprisonment, pending trial, of highly respected and well-known human rights defenders on 18 July. These include the director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser and two trainers from Germany and Sweden for, allegedly having supported a terrorist organization.
“Human rights defenders should be able to fulfil their activities freely without being subject to arbitrary interferences by the authorities. Such grave accusations as terrorism-related offences should be backed by serious and concrete evidence so as not to create an atmosphere of arbitrariness leading to fear, self-censorship and a chilling effect on Turkish civil society,” Jagland said.
“The Turkish judiciary should apply the principles set in the case-law of the Strasbourg Court as regards pre-trial detention,” he added.