Congress’ Helsinki Commission published a bipartisan letter condemning the undermining of “human rights and democratic principles in Turkey.” The letter focused on a number of concerns, including the prosecution of rights defenders:
It is clear that terrorism charges under the state of emergency are also being manipulated to suppress the activism of a group of human rights defenders arrested in early July. Authorities seized a group of ten Turkish and international activists holding a routine human rights defenders workshop in Istanbul. The group of activists, which has come to be known as the Istanbul 10 and includes Amnesty International’s Turkey Director, Ms. İdil Eser, is charged with “committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.” A month earlier, Amnesty International’s Turkey Board Chair, Mr. Taner Kılıç, was arrested on charges of being a member of an alleged terrorist organization. Ms. Eser, Mr. Kılıç, and many of their colleagues remain in pre-trial detention.
The letter represents the growing international concern at the on-going rights abuses and the outrage caused by the targeting of rights defenders under terror statutes.