Back to top

Istanbul 10 Released in Turkey

Status: 
Released, Travel Ban
About the situation

On 25 October, the human rights defenders were released from detention following more than 100 days behind bars. Ozlem Dalkiran and Veli Acu were given a travel ban. If found guilty, the defenders faced up to 15 years in prison.

About the HRDs

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idel Eser is the director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women’s Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

25 October 2017
Court Orders Release of HRDs

On 25 October 2017, the human rights defenders were released following more than 100 days in detention. Ozlem Dalkiran and Veli Acu were given a travel ban.

Previously, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office charged ten human rights defenders, known as the Istanbul 10, with support “of an armed terrorist organisation” and charged Taner Kılıç, Amnesty International’s Turkey Section Chair, with membership of an “armed terrorist organisation”. If found guilty of these charges, the human rights defenders faced between 7.5 and 15 years in prison.

For more information: Istanbul 10 released pending trial hearing 

24 October 2017
Istanbul High Criminal Court accepts indictment against Istanbul 10 and Taner Kılıç

On 16 October 2017, the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court accepted the bill of indictment issued by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against the Istanbul 10 and Taner Kılıç.

On 8 October 2017, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office charged ten human rights defenders, known as the Istanbul 10, with support “of an armed terrorist organisation” and charged Taner Kılıç, Amnesty International’s Turkey Section Chair, with membership of an “armed terrorist organisation”. The indictment against the Istanbul 10 says that if found guilty of these charges the human rights defenders face between 7.5 and 15 years in prison.

The first hearing is scheduled on 25 October 2017.

18 July 2017
Ten HRDs charged with "aiding armed terrorist organisation", six in pre-trial detention

On 18 July 2017, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner were charged with "aiding an armed terrorist organisation". Six of the human rights defenders, including Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are being kept in pre-trial detention while Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan have been released but are under a travel ban and other judicial restrictions. Ozlem Dalkiran and Idil Eser are being held in Bakirkoy prison, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner in Maltepe prison and Veli Acu and Gunal Kursun in Metris prison of Istanbul.

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idil Eser is the Director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women’s Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are respectively Swedish and German consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

On 17 July 2017, all of the human rights defenders were interviewed by public prosecutors at the Judicial Palace in Istanbul, following 12 days of detention without charges. Around 10:00pm the same day, it was revealed that the public prosecutor would request detention for all ten of the human rights defenders. In the early morning of 18 July 2017 the judge ordered the pre-trial detention for six of the human rights defenders, as "there was a strong suspicion that the detainees committed the crime" and because of "possibility of escape". Although the court decision does not refer to any specific articles of the Criminal Code, it mentions the charges of “aiding an armed terrorist organisation”, which could relate to Article 220.7, which states that (official translation) "Any person who knowingly and willingly helps an organized criminal group although not takes place within the hierarchic structure of the group, is punished as if he is a member of the organized group" and to Article 220.3 (official translation)"in case the organized criminal group is equipped with arms, the punishment to be imposed according to the above subsections is increased from one fourth to one half".

On 11 July 2017, the detention of the ten abovementioned human rights defenders  was extended by seven more days by a decision of the prosecutor. The detention order referred to suspected membership of an armed terrorist organisation.  During 10 and 11 July 2017, police carried out searches at the houses of the detained defenders, and reportedly seized flash and hard drives as well as other electronic equipment. Despite the undisclosed nature of the investigation, there has been a smear campaign conducted against the defenders in certain segments of Turkish media as well as amongst social media networks, equating the human rights defenders with “spies”.

On the morning of 5 July 2017, the ten human rights defenders were detained by police during a workshop on holistic security, organised by the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly for Turkish human rights defenders. After being held incommunicado for almost 30 hours, they were allowed to contact families and see their legal counsellor.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned by, and condemns the charges and pre-trial detention of the aforementioned human rights defenders, as it believes that these actions are in connected with their legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights. 
 

11 July 2017
Detention of human rights defenders extended for seven more days

On 11 July 2017, the detention of human rights defenders, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner was extended by seven more days by a decision of the prosecutor.

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idel Eser is the director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women's Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are Swedish and German consultants respectively who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

On 11 July 2017, the detention of human rights defenders, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner was extended by seven more days by a decision of the prosecutor. The detention order refers to suspected membership of an armed terrorist organisation. Over the course of  10 and 11 July 2017, police carried out searches at the houses of the detained defenders, and reportedly seized flash and hard drives as well as other electronic equipment. Despite the undisclosed nature of the investigation, there has been a smear campaign conducted against the defenders in certain segments of Turkish media as well as amongst social media networks, equating the human rights defenders with "spies".

On the morning of 5 July 2017, the Ascot hotel on the island of Buyukada, a venue where a workshop organised by the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly for Turkish human rights defenders was raided by Turkish police. The five day workshop on the topic of holistic security began on 2 July 2017. Ten human rights defenders participating in the workshop, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner were detained by the police. The defenders were separated into groups of two, with the eight Turkish defenders being subsequently transferred  to different police stations in Istanbul while the two foreigners remained at Buyukada police station. For over 24 hours following their arrests, the human rights defenders were not permitted to contact their families.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned by the arbitrary arrest and detention of the aforementioned ten human rights defenders as it believes that they have been detained in relation to their work in the defence of human rights.
 

6 July 2017
Detentions Extended

On 6 July 2017, eight human rights defenders and two consultants had their detentions extended to seven days following their arrests a day earlier on Bayukada island, off the coast of Istanbul. Seven days is the maximum period of time permitted for detainees to be held without charge under Turkey’s State of Emergency. On 5 July, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan and were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, two consultants in attendance at the workshop, were also detained.

5 July 2017
Turkey: Detention of ten human rights defenders

On 5 July 2017, eight human rights defenders, along with two consultants, were detained on Buyukada island, off the coast of Istanbul in Turkey. Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun and Nejat Tastan were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Two consultants, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, were also detained. It is believed that Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are being held in Buyukada Police Station. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unknown.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli and Ozlem Dalkiran all work for the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, an organisation promoting peace, democracy and civil society throughout Europe. Idel Eser is the director of Amnesty International Turkey. Veli Acu and Günal Kursun work for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout the country. Ilknur Ustun is a member of the Women’s Coalition, which focuses on gender equality and enhanced female participation in public life. Nejat Tastan is coordinator at the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, an NGO promoting equality and carrying out independent election observation. Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner are consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

On the morning of 5 July 2017 the Ascot hotel, a venue where a workshop organised by the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly for Turkish human rights defenders on the island of Buyukada, was raided by Turkish police. All of the participants were arrested and subsequently moved to detention centres. It is believed that the two consultants, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, continue to be held incommunicado on the island of Buyukada. Lawyers have thus far been denied access to the two men. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unconfirmed, although it is believed that they have been moved from Buyukada to Istanbul.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned by the arrests of the above mentioned eight human rights defenders and two consultants as it believed that they have been detained in relation to their work in the defence of human rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner ;

3. Ensure that the treatment of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

4. Immediately inform the family and lawyers of Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan of the place of their detention, and allow them immediate and unfettered access to them, and permit the lawyers of Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner immediate and unfettered access to them.

5. Cease targeting all human rights defenders in Turkey and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.