07/18/2017, 18.29
TURKEY
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More human rights activists arrested in Turkey, including Amnesty International's Turkey director

A Turkish court has remanded into custody six militants, including İdil Eser, in what Amnesty International calls a "travesty of justice". Two trainers, a Swedish and a German, have also been detained. They were charged with "committing a crime in the name of a terror organisation without being a member”, namely the Gülen movement.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Turkish court has upheld a custody order for six human rights activists, including İdil Eser, Amnesty International’s Turkey director. For the international human rights organisation, this is a “travesty of justice”.

Eight activists, including Eser, were detained on 5 July along with two foreign trainers, a Swede and a German.

The “Six were remanded in custody and four released on judicial control,” Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher, Andrew Gardner, told Agence France-Presse.

They are accused of “committing a crime in the name of a terror organisation without being a member”, he said.

The term "terrorist organisation" often refers to the movement founded by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is in exile in Pennsylvania (the United States), or the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

According to Erdoğan and his government, Gülen masterminded the failed coup of 15 July 2106, when 270 people were killed, and thousands wounded.

The Islamic leader, once an ally of the president, has always denied any responsibility and has called for an international investigation to shed light on the coup and the forces that inspired it.

The two foreigners were in Turkey to lead a digital information workshop.

“What we’ve learned today is that defending human rights has become a crime in Turkey. After this decision, none of us [is] safe in this country,” Gardner said.

The eight human rights activists appeared before the prosecutors only yesterday. Turkish authorities had already arrested once before the Amnesty International director for "being a Gülenist".

One year after the failed coup on 14-15 July 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues his crackdown against alleged accomplices and supporters.

According to the latest official figures by the Turkish Interior Ministry, 50,510 people were arrested in 12 months, whilst another 120,000 were held in custody at one time or another. A total of 169,013 were investigated.

More than 130,000 people have lost their jobs. Some 8,087 arrest warrants have been issued, including for at least 152 army officers, 392 police, three governors and scores of senior bureaucrats. Some 169 generals, 7,089 colonels and 24 governors are in jail. (DS)

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