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Ten human rights defenders detained in Turkey

Nalan Erkem, Seyhmuz Ozbekli, Ozlem Dalkiran, Idil Eser, Veli Acu, Gunal Kursun, Ilknur Ustun, Nejat Tastan, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner

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 and were all arrested as they attended a workshop. Two consultants, Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner, were also detained. It is believed that Ali Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are being held in Buyukada Police Station. The whereabouts of the eight human rights defenders are currently unknown.

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. 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 Gharawi and Peter Steudtner are consultants who were collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, to support human rights defenders and development organisations.

Human rights defenders in Turkey have been subjected to harassment, threats, surveillance, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, judicial harassment including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, prolonged arbitrary detention and ill-treatment. They become target for their work on denouncing impunity for serious human rights violations, defending sexual rights, investigating on ultra-nationalist networks, advocating for labour rights or defending the right to conscientious objection.