On the 5th of July 2017, a group of 10 women’s and human rights activist, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser, were detained in Istanbul. İlknur Üstün and Nalan Erkem, members of the Turkish women’s coalition Kadın Koalisyonu were also among those detained. According to a statement by Amnesty International, the detention occurred during a digital security and information management workshop in Büyükada, Istanbul. It is understood that all detainees have been denied access to lawyers, which police are entitled to do for 24 hours, and the right to contact a family member, which has to be granted immediately according to Turkish Law.
The persons detained have been championing for years causes such as gender equality, the elimination of violence against women and girls and struggled to ensure that women are adequately represented and can actively participate in the country’s political life.
The detention happened only a day before high-level meetings are scheduled to take place in Ankara with the European Union commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, in an effort to continue the EU-Turkey dialogue.
In the past couple of months, the situation of human rights activists in Turkey became ever more precarious and uncertain. Women’s rights defenders being increasingly at risk of attacks and intimidation.
Less than a month ago, Taner Kiliç, Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was remanded in prison custody on baseless charges.
WAVE considers that the baseless internment of human and particularly women’s rights activists in Turkey represents an outrageous abuse of power. Moreover, it is a direct attack on women’s rights and those who are standing up for this cause. In light of such circumstances, WAVE condemns the repressions on women’s rights defenders carried out by the Turkish government, as it is the right of every woman to live free from violence. WAVE would also like to draw attention to the obligations of the Turkish government under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention. By being one of the first states to have ratified the Convention in March 2012, the Turkish government committed itself to promote awareness‐raising campaigns with civil society and non‐governmental organisations to increase understanding among the general public of the different manifestations of all forms of violence covered by the Convention (Art. 11).
By expressing a strong sense of solidarity with its Turkish sisters, WAVE urges EU institutions and all EU member states to seek a solution to the current dangerous situation of women’s and human rights defenders in Turkey. Moreover, WAVE hopes that the Turkish government will reconsider its position and will comply with its obligations under the Istanbul Convention by ensuring their immediate and unconditional release.