Turkey begins trial for 11 human rights defenders on charges of terrorism
Oct 25, Istanbul: the trial for eleven human rights activists accused of terrorism charges has started in Istanbul on Wednesday.
The activists, who include the local head of Amnesty International and a German and a Swede, face up to 15 years in prison on charges that include membership in and aid to an “armed terrorist organization”.
“This is ostensibly a trial of human rights defenders attending a workshop on an island in Istanbul, but in fact it is the Turkish justice system and Turkish authorities that are on trial,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s director for Europe and Central Asia, outside the courthouse.
The Police blocked off the square outside the court, Istanbul’s Palace of Justice in the central Caglayan district, although the area was thronged with journalists.
Since a failed coup last year, authorities have jailed pending trial more than 50,000 and sacked or suspended some 150,000. Western allies fear Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to root out opponents and quash dissent.
Among those arrested were Amnesty International’s Turkey director, Idil Eser, German citizen Peter Frank Steudtner and Swedish citizen Ali Gharavi.
The director of Amnesty Turkey and several prominent rights activists are to go on trial after their arrest in Istanbul in July. The group has been charged with helping to an armed terror group, but one of the people arrested has been released and accused the government of cracking down on opposition and human rights groups.
The Oslo Times International News Network