Rights groups call on Turkey to end intimidation, harassment of activists

Turkish and international human rights organisations on Wednesday called on Ankara to end what they called an "orchestrated campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment of civil society," left-wing news site Gazete Duvar reported.

Nine human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, made the call in İstanbul, following a move on Feb. 20  by Turkish prosecutors to indict many prominent activists in relation to the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking life terms for a total of 16 people, including businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who are accused of attempting to overthrow the government for their part in the biggest anti-government demonstrations since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist government came to power in 2002.

The organisations, called the accusations "absurd," while highlighting that Turkey is obliged to protect human rights defenders under international law.

Turkey’s criminal court has another week to examine the indictment, which many rights groups, including Freedom House, have said is a blatant attempt to criminalise assembly and association as well as silence the country’s activists.