Sweeping crackdown on human rights defenders

At the time of writing, Turkey remains on the CIVICUS Monitor's Watch List of countries where there is an immediate and developing threat to civic space.


In another sweeping crackdown on human rights defenders (HRDs), Turkish security forces raided a workshop on digital security at a hotel on Buyukada Island, in the Sea of Marmara on 5th July 2017. Twelve people, including nine HRDs, were arrested as Turkish security forces dispersed the meeting. The detained activists include: 

  1. İdil Eser, Amnesty International
  2. İlknur Üstün, Women's Coalition
  3. Günal Kurşun, Human Rights Agenda Association
  4. Veli Acu, Human Rights Agenda Association
  5. Nalan Erkem, Citizens Assembly
  6. Özlem Dalkıran, Citizens Assembly
  7. Şeyhmuz Özbekli, lawyer
  8. Nejat Taştan, Equal Rights Watch Association
  9. Ali Garawi (workshop moderator)
  10. The hotel owner as well as a German and a Swedish national were also detained in the raid. 

Turkish authorities claim that the arrests are justified under law. However, as previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, the prolonged use of emergency legislation has afforded Turkish authorities overly broad powers to restrict civic freedoms. The detained activists have been denied access to legal counsel and have not been given a reason for their detention. 

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Director General, commented on Turkish President Erdoğan's brazen disregard for human rights, declaring that: 

“World leaders currently sitting in Hamburg have been remarkably tolerant of Turkey’s human rights meltdown. With President Erdoğan now in their midst, this would be a good time to speak out firmly and call for the release of all human rights defenders currently behind bars".

As reported in the most recent Monitor update, Turkish authorities have recently intensified their campaign against international civic groups, such as Amnesty International. Since the failed coup attempt last year, Turkish authorities have systematically targeted independent civil society groups and activists, with an approximately 115,827 individuals detained since July 2016. More information on the twelve detainees will reportedly be released later today. 

Tags: HRD detained