US concerned over detention of 10 human rights activists in Istanbul

US concerned over detention of 10 human rights activists in Istanbul

US concerned over detention of 10 human rights activists in Istanbul The U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the detention of 10 human rights activists, including the Turkey head of Amnesty International, in Istanbul, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on July 6.

“As with past arrests of prominent human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and activists, we underscore the importance of respecting due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, and consistent with Turkey’s own international commitments,” Nauert said. 

“More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times,” she added.

Police detained 10 human rights activists on July 5 during a meeting at a hotel in Istanbul’s Büyükada Island. İdil Eser, the Turkey head of Amnesty International, was among those detained in the meeting where they were organizing a “digital security and information management workshop,” according to Amnesty International. 

An official from the Human Rights Association (İHD) told BBC Turkish that the activists were accused of “being a member of an armed terror organization,” quoting their lawyers.

Meanwhile, the Citizen’s Assembly whose activists were among those detained also stated that the activists were taken under detention in five different police stations across the province while two foreign trainers, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, were being held at the police station in Büyükada.

Earlier, Amnesty had stated that it was “profoundly disturbed and outraged” with the detentions, calling for the immediate release of the group.

Separately, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who was in the Turkish capital on July 6 to discuss its performance in European Union accession talks, said he had raised the detentions with Turkish officials.

“But I didn’t get a sufficient answer about it. We will continue to follow this,” he told a news conference at Ankara airport.

Hahn also said he had stressed the need for Turkey to respect the rule of law and the right of people to a fair trial.

Meanwhile, Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, also expressed his concern over the detentions, calling for the activists’ release.

“The use of criminal proceedings against human rights defenders for conduct that should be protected under the European Convention on Human Rights is unfortunately an increasingly frequent phenomenon in Turkey. This latest incident further aggravates my concerns in this field, which I have most recently expressed with respect to the proceedings against two prominent human rights defenders, Murat Çelikkan and Taner Kılıç,” Muižnieks said.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to immediately release those detained yesterday and strongly urge them to stop all arbitrary interferences with the legitimate work of civil society.” he said.