Taner Kılıç, the Honorary Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, who was released yesterday after more than fourteen months behind bars, has thanked his supporters and said he hopes the campaign for his release helps to highlight the situation facing other victims of politically motivated prosecutions in Turkey.
Taner, whose trial will resume on 7 November, was reunited with his family on the 16th August, after being released by a court in Istanbul.
“I think the campaign for my release has helped to shine a light on all those people who have been the victims of politically motivated, unfair prosecutions in Turkey,” said Taner Kılıç.
“I hope that justice will prevail and that everyone will be given a fair trial.”
Taner was arrested in June 2017 on baseless charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”. He was accused of using an encrypted messaging app called ByLock, which the Turkish government said was used by members of the banned Fetullah Gülen group. Two police reports and four independent forensic analyses found no trace of ByLock on his phone.
“Despite the fact that there was not a single reason for my imprisonment, I was jailed for more than 14 months. I was jailed despite the fact that I did not use ByLock. I hope it was not for nothing, that the awareness generated around the world will help others face fair trials in Turkey,” said Taner.
He also expressed his thanks for the international solidarity shown towards him.
“To everyone who sent me countless letters from around the world – cards from Canada to Japan, from Norway to Benin – I want to express my deep gratitude,” Taner said.
“While in prison, these actions lifted my spirit and reminded me of the importance of international solidarity in the struggle for human rights.”
“Fourteen months behind bars feels like a very long time. I am still feeling a little stunned. I think it will take me some time to process it, but this is the best Eid celebration we could have hoped for.”
Taner Kılıç and the Istanbul 10
Taner was arrested on 6 June last year and sent to jail three days later, where he has languished until his recent release.
Ten other activists known as “The Istanbul 10”, including Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser, were locked up a month later. Eight of them were held for almost four months before being released on bail at their first hearing in October.
They all face the same baseless charge – “membership of a terrorist organisation” – a ridiculous claim made time and time again by the Turkish government to justify its attempt to silence human rights defenders.
Since the attempted coup of July 2016, 150,000 people have accused of dealings with the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”, which the Turkish government claims to be behind the rebellion.
Some 50,000 people are currently jailed, including at least 100 journalists – the highest number of any country in the world. What’s more, over 100,000 public sector workers, including a quarter of the judiciary and hundreds of academics, have been arbitrarily dismissed.
The fight continues
Today we take a brief moment to celebrate, but tomorrow we will continue our struggle to have all charges dropped against Taner, the Istanbul 10, and all other innocent victims wrongfully caught up in this vicious crackdown.
Thank you for your support so far. We hope you will continue to stand with us.