Police detain 10 human rights activists in Istanbul

Police detain 10 human rights activists in Istanbul

Police detain 10 human rights activists in Istanbul Police detained 10 human rights activists on July 5, including the Turkey head of Amnesty International, İdil Eser, at a meeting on an island off Istanbul.

The activists had gathered at a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands in the Marmara Sea, where they were organizing a “digital security and information management workshop,” according to Amnesty International.

It was not immediately clear why the activists were being held.

Apart from Eser, the detained activists included 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, Amnesty stated.

It added that two foreign trainers – a German and a Swedish national – as well as the hotel owner were also among those detained.

Amnesty called for the group’s release, saying it was “profoundly disturbed and outraged” with the detentions.

“This is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

A representative from the Citizen’s Assembly later told BBC Turkish that the owner of the hotel was later released, while the foreign trainers identified as Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner were being held at the police station on Büyükada.

The detentions came less than a month after a court imprisoned the chairman of Amnesty’s Turkey branch pending trial, Taner Kılıç, on charges of “membership with a terrorist organization” following the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who was visiting Turkey to discuss the country’s accession progress, said the detentions would form part of his discussions in Ankara. 

“The arrests of people in last night’s arrests, for instance, are issues that need to be addressed in terms of friendship and mutual understanding. That’s why we are here,” Hahn told reporters.