On 5 July 2017, ten human rights defenders from various international organisations who took part in a workshop on the island of Büyükada, Istanbul, were arrested. Two of them, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran, also work as translators. Both are members of the Translators´ Association Turkey (Çevirmenler Birliği, ÇEVBİR).
The workshop in Istanbul, attended by eight human rights defenders from Turkey and facilitated by two workshop facilitators from Germany and Sweden respectively, was a routine meeting to assist human rights defenders in carrying out advocacy activities.
On 10 and 11 July 2017, police carried out searches at the houses of the detained defenders, and reportedly seized flash and hard drives as well as other electronic equipment. Despite the undisclosed nature of the investigation, there has been a smear campaign conducted against the defenders in certain segments of Turkish media as well as amongst social media networks, equating the human rights defenders with ‘spies’.
On 18 July 2017 the defenders were charged with “aiding an armed terrorist organisation”. Ever since, İdil Eser, Özlem Dalkıran and the other participants of the workshop have been detained in prisons in Istanbul under a strict regime. The ten detained human right defenders reject these charges.
The human rights defenders are still in prison and the date of trial is as yet unknown. Nor is there an indictment regarding the charges against the defenders, which causes an unacceptable violation of rights. For the campaign for the release of the human rights defenders, please click here (https://www NULL.amnesty NULL.org/en/documents/eur44/6676/2017/en/).
İdil Eser has worked for a long time as a freelance (book) translator. She has also worked in several civil society organizations in Turkey, including the History Foundation, Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, and Médecins Sans Frontières. Eser has been the director of Amnesty International Turkey since 2016.
Özlem Dalkıran is a freelance translator, author, and activist. Apart from her work as a translator, she has been active as a human rights advocate and campaigner for numerous human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International Turkey, of which she was president for two terms, and Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. Recently, Dalkıran, who is a member of International Hrant Dink Award Committee, worked as a coordinator at the independent media network Bianet.