Amnesty International urges Turkey to investigate throwing of two Kurdish men from military helicopter
Amnesty International has called on Turkey to investigate the throwing of two men from a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van. It also said that it's very concerned on the "allegations of torture and mistreatment," adding that international human rights law and standards must ensure that Turkey prevents torture under all circumstances.
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Human Rights Watch has called on Turkey to reverse the convictions of four human rights defenders, saying that the sentences given to them are politically motivated. “We hope the higher courts will do their duty and reverse this miscarriage of justice," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
An Istanbul court sentenced four rights defenders to prison during a trial on July 3. The court sentenced Taner Kılıç to six years and three months in prison over "terrorist organization membership." Günal Kuşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran were handed one year and 13 months jail terms over "aiding a terrorist organization."
Amnesty International has said that only the acquittal of all 11 human defenders, who face terrorism charges in a case dubbed ‘Büyükada trial,’ could deliver justice for the activists. The NGO's comment came just a day before an Istanbul court is expected to give a verdict regarding the case.
Turkey has been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to suppress freedom of expression and crack down on dissenting views, said Amnesty International in a report published last week. The Turkish government has been known for aggressively targeting social media users and bringing criminal charges against them for their posts for the past several years, and this remained constant during the coronavirus outbreak.
Amnesty International started a campaign to urge Turkey's Justice Ministry to release journalists, opposition politicians and activists from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO noted that jailed prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and imprisoned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala are both over 60, and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has been suffering from a heart condition in prison.
Turkish prosecutors have said they have not found any reason to start an investigation into Diyanet head Ali Erbaş over his comment that "homosexuality causes disease." The prosecutors' decision came as Amnesty International called on the Turkish gov't to take urgent action to counter the increasing number of discriminatory statements and policies by state officials against LGBTI people.
Turkish parliament passes bill to release thousands from prison, leaves journalists, politicians out
Turkey's parliament on April 14 passed a law that will allow the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, but which critics slam for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, mainly journalists and politicians. The opposition points out that 'terror' has taken on a broad meaning in Turkey, essentially used as a way to criminalize any opponent of the government.
The Istanbul 35th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 19 postponed the trial into 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair Taner Kılıç and its former executive director İdil Eser, to April 3. "Both us and our organizations are being tried to be criminalize in this trial," Kılıç told the court.
Amnesty International has called for the freedom of prominent philanthropist, human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala and other rights defenders who are being tried over the 2013 Gezi Park protests. "We see this case as an attempt to destroy the independent civil society. It's a completely political case," Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, told Duvar English.
Günal Kurşun, a human rights defender being tried in the Büyükada Case, has said that the fact that he wrote for Today's Zaman is counted as criminal evidence. "Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was also writing for the daily around the same time. A lawsuit should be filed for Kalın as well if that's the case," Kurşun told Duvar ahead of the hearing on Feb. 19.