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Call for the immediate release of leading human rights defenders in Turkey

11 July 2017

To the Government, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice of Turkey,

We are writing to you to express our profound dismay at the continued detention of ten human rights defenders and to call for their immediate release.

These ten human rights defenders were detained by police in Istanbul on 5 July while attending a training workshop. Two of them were experts from outside the country providing the training. The group were held without access to lawyers and relatives for over 24 hours and their detention was extended for seven days without charge.

The individuals in custody are members of well-known NGOs and some of the most prominent human rights defenders in Turkey and other countries. Their detention constitutes violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association.

Most obviously, this incident runs contrary to the rights protected under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

We therefore call for these rights to be immediately realised and for these colleagues to be released without any delay.

List of the detained human rights defenders:

  • Idil Eser, Amnesty International Turkey;
  • İlknur Üstün, Women’s Coalition;
  • Günal Kurşun , lawyer, Human Rights Agenda Association;
  • Nalan Erkem, Lawyer, Citizens Assembly;
  • Nejat Taştan, Equal Rights Watch Association;
  • Özlem Dalkıran, Citizens’ Assembly;
  • Şeyhmuz Özbekli, lawyer, Right Initiative;
  • Veli Acu, Human Rights Agenda Association;
  • Ali Gharavi  – an IT strategy consultant
  • Peter Steudtner – a non-violence and well-being trainer


  • Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Argentina
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canada
  • Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Argentina
  • CONECTAS, Brazil
  • Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), USA
  • Fundación Memoria Historica y Social Argentina, Argentina
  • International Human Rights Group Agora, Russia
  • Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Ireland
  • Madres de Plaza de Mayo Linea Fundadora, Argentina
  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG), United Kingdom
  • Tony Fisher, Chair of the Human Rights Committee at the Law Society (of England and Wales)
  • Vera Jarach, a mother of the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina