Chair of the Amnesty International in Turkey Taner Kiliç Photo:Amnesty International
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The European Union is closely monitoring Turkey with regards to the court case against Chair of the Amnesty International in Turkey Taner Kiliç who was detained earlier this week as part of an ongoing crackdown against those suspected of having links to the self-exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen who is blamed by Turkey for the failed coup last year.
“We call on the Turkish authorities to clarify the charges swiftly,” in line with the standards of human rights in Europe, the EU said in a statement, adding that they European bloc “is monitoring the on-going procedure closely.”
The statement added that “it is important to fully respect the presumption of innocence."
The Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kiliç was arrested in the city of Izmir along with 22 other lawyers as part of a crackdown on those with suspected links to Fethullah Gülen or the Hizmet movement in Turkey which has been blamed for last year’s coup attempt.
“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become,” stated Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, "Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling,”
Kiliç was arrested at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning and his home as well as his office was searched by authorities.
It does not seem that his detention is connected to any of his work for Amnesty International or that the organization is specifically being targeted.
As per Amnesty International’s website, “The detention order refers to an investigation into suspected members of the "Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization". It is currently unclear why Kiliç is suspected of having links to Gülen.
“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kiliç along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them,” said Amnesty International’s Shetty.
Since the failed coup attempt almost a year ago in Turkey, local authorities have arrested over 50,000 people with another 150,000 losing their jobs. Those affected cross all professions, soldiers, police officers, public servants and academics based on alleged connections to Gülen.
Gülen, who has taken exile in the US since 1999, has denied any involvement in the coup.