Turkey Detains a 2nd Amnesty International Leader
ISTANBUL – A second senior official of Amnesty International, the main human rights monitoring organization, was held in Turkey in the space of a month.
Idil Eser, Amnesty’s office director in Turkey, was arrested on Wednesday 10 with another at least after a raid at a digital security workshop at a hotel in Buyukada, one of the Prince Islands near Istanbul.
Among the detainees were seven other activists from local human rights groups; Two foreign coaches; And the hotel owner, who was released later, said Amnesty. Once detainees were held without access to lawyers for more than a day, officials announced that they were under investigation suspected of joining a terrorist group.
Mrs Eser’s detention follows the chairman of the Amnesty Turkey chapter, Taner Kilic. M. Kilic was arrested last month for being in touch with the Islamic group that was accused of launching the coup struck in Turkey last year.
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Human rights defenders are often accused of treason in Turkish activities, in order to discredit their work. An article on a pro-government news website accused detainees on Wednesday of being spies.
The arrests were the latest salvo in an offensive against opposition politicians, journalists and activists in Turkey, who saw about 50,000 people arrested and more than 140,000 people fired or suspended from work.
The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the purge is necessary to complete the coup, but critics call the air coup attempt a smokescreen to address the legitimate opposition.
Thousands of scholars were sent as part of the repression, while more than a dozen lawmakers are in jail, and more than 170 journalists.
Tens of thousands of Turks demonstrated in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, Ankara, the capital, to protest against a perceived rupture in the judicial process.
But M. Erdogan still has significant support: a little more than half of the electorate voted to give his office more power to a recent referendum was tarnished by electoral irregularities.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty condemned Mrs Eser’s arrest, stating: “We are deeply disturbed and outraged that some of the main human rights defenders in Turkey, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey should have been Detained without cause, obviously. ”
He added: “This is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation of human rights activists in the country.”
Amnesty said it was the first time in the group’s history as director and chairman of the same country office were held simultaneously.
Amnesty has campaigned for M. Erdogan in the past, after M. Erdogan was convicted in 1997 for reciting a provocative poem.