Amnesty International Leaders Detained without Cause
Reaction by Mary E. Latela, 7/17/2017
“Through our detailed research and determined campaigning, we help fight abuses of human rights worldwide. We bring torturers to justice. Change oppressive laws. And free people jailed just for voicing their opinion.” This is the mission of Amnesty International, Inc.
“Amnesty Turkey Director İdil Eser was among 10 human rights defenders detained while attending a human rights workshop on 5 July. For over 24 hours the authorities refused to reveal their whereabouts and they were denied the right to call their loved ones.
“Their detention follows the arrest of Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kiliç, who has been imprisoned since 6 June. They all face criminal investigations on the absurd suspicion of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organization’. The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.
“These brave activists have been detained for no reason except for their belief in human rights. While they are behind bars, we will march for them. While they are gagged, we will speak out for them.”
I’ve been a member for many years. When I was at Yale Divinity School, Professor Leander Keck was teaching us New Testament theology. In the middle of the class a young man in jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a bandanna on his head, strode in, and shouted, “You are not allowed to teach anymore!” Prof. Keck said, “Who are you?” and the young guy said, “You are under arrest.” Keck said nothing and walked out of the room with the thug.
We sat there a moment wondering what caused this? Was it really an attack? Where should we go? After a few very uncomfortable minutes, an administrator enteres and stood at the podium. He said,” We are cooperating with Amnesty International today, and Prof. Keck is the “prisoner” You can free him by joining the write=in at the cafeteria.”
Well, the dining room was well organized, with piles of postcards, pictures of imprisoned people around the world. We sat or stood and wrote, copying from a template and adding our own thoughts to the notes. After the first 150, Prof. Keck was let out of his “cell” a dining room serving cart with wheels. The other “big men” were there. They said this reminded them of their freedom rider days.
And that is what we can do now. Write a letter, email it, or write a postcard and put in into the mail. Go to https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/07/free-rights-defenders-in-turkey/ to address this current breach of faith, taking leaders of an organization driven by conflict resolution, peace-making, and protection of wrongfully detaining them.
6 July 2017, 02:32 UTC
Responding to the news that Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained on Wednesday along with seven other human rights defenders and two trainers during a digital security and information management workshop in Büyükada, Istanbul, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“We are profoundly disturbed and outraged that some of Turkey’s leading human rights defenders, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey should have been detained so blatantly without cause.”