Amnesty says Turkey chair victim of targeting

The allegations being levelled against the chair of the Turkey branch of human rights group Amnesty are “ludicrous” and part of a wider crackdown on human rights activists, Amnesty International’s senior advisor on the country wrote.

Over a million people from 194 countries and territories had signed Amnesty’s petition for Taner Kılıç’s release in advance of the third hearing in his trial on Wednesday, Andrew Gardner said.

“The ludicrous allegations against Taner aren't unique. In fact there is a pattern of targeting human rights defenders,” he said, giving the examples of philanthropist Osman Kavala and Raci Bilici, head of the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association, who are also jailed facing charges.

“The picture is clear. If you are effective, if you are a thorn in the side of those bothered by human rights activism, then you will pay the price. Targeting prominent individuals serves to scare, and to silence the communities they represent,” Gardner said.

There was more of a need for human rights defenders like Kılıç than ever in Turkey, he said, due to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.