Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Journalists and activists participate in a rally for press freedom and against the detention of journalists under anti-terrorism laws in the capital of Ankara (Photo Credit: Ümit Bektas/Reuters).
In a major report this week, Amnesty International has outlined the wide range of legal tools that Turkish authorities have used to target political dissent and limit freedom of expression. Scholars, students, journalists, human rights activists, and thousands of others have been subject to prosecution and lengthy punishment under these statutes. But you can join us in working for real reform in Turkey!
Amnesty has noted that:
The most negative development in recent years has been the increasingly arbitrary use of anti-terrorism laws to prosecute legitimate activities including political speeches, critical writing, attendance of demonstrations and association with recognized political groups and organizations – in violation of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
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© MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images
On December 3rd, demonstrations were held in Istanbul and 40 provinces of Turkey, protesting lengthy pre-trial detentions, mass custodies and arrests, and called for the abolishment of Turkey’s draconian anti-terrorist law. In Istanbul alone, some 2000 persons, including the Deputy Chair of the CHP, Turkey’s main opposition party, engineers, architects and doctors joined in the demonstration.
As we noted in a previous blog, thousands of Turkish citizens have been imprisoned and await trials—some for over two years–under this law. Those arrested and imprisoned have even included lawyers defending others who were incarcerated.
In its most recent Annual Human Rights Report, Amnesty International again underlined the violations of freedom of speech carried out under the anti-terrorism law.
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Apart from the issue of war crimes that I’ve written about lately, there’s another urgent human rights crisis in Sri Lanka: thousands of people are being detained without charge or trial under the country’s repressive anti-terrorism laws. Some have been held for 10 years or more.
Please write to the Sri Lankan government and ask that all those detained under these laws are either promptly released or else charged with recognizable crimes. Sri Lanka’s emergency regulations and Prevention of Terrorism Act should be promptly repealed.