London, 3 July 2020 - The President of Amnesty International Turkey has been sentenced today. Taner Kılıç, human rights activist, also founder of the Turkish branch of the Human Rights organisation, has been the victim of what Amnesty defines as "court deals crushing blow for human rights and for justice" as he has been sentenced for ‘membership of a terrorist organization’ (i.e. Gülen movement).
Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher who observed the hearing said: “Today, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. This verdict is a crushing blow not only for Taner, Özlem, İdil and Günal and their families but for everyone who believes in justice, and human rights activism in Turkey and beyond".
The human rights activists Özlem Dalkıran, İdil Eser and Günal Kurşun have been also sentenced for ‘assisting a terrorist organization’.
In a press release Amnesty International says “the decision of the court is staggering. During 12 court hearings, each and every allegation has been comprehensively exposed as a baseless slur. The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices it was from day one.”
Kılıç, human rights lawyer, was arrested by Turkish authorities in June 2017 and accused of being linked to Gülen movement, right that movement Turkey's president Erdogan is persecuting as political opponent. Gülen in fact has been accused by Erdogan's islamic conservatives of AKP, of using the judiciary system to seek influence while the movement was seeking justice in a government's corruption scandal.
“This case has been a litmus test for the Turkish justice system. As such, it is tragic to see the part it has played and continues to play in criminalizing the act of standing up for human rights. We will continue to stand with our friends and colleagues as they appeal these shameful verdicts.” (Amnesty International)
The sentence shows how AKP over the last years gained influence over courts. A kind of political backlash passing through the criminalisation of human rights defenders.
The false accusation against Kılıç has been built up by Turkish magistrates based on the allegation he downloaded the smartphone program ByLock (accusation Amnesty strongly denies). The Court used a legal precedent of Turkey's supreme courts that having ByLock installed on the phone of an accused person is sufficient to establish that person's membership of the Gülen movement.
The sentence is not only an index of the politicization and dependence of Turkish courts, but of the increasingly repressive trend of Erdogan's regime.
Turkey sentenced president of Amnesty International.
Taner Kılıç victim of false accusation and criminalisation in a verdict meaning who defends human rights is an enemy of Erdogan