Idil Eser is the Director of Ammesty International in Turkey and she is today spending her birthday in jail, fighting for her freedom. She and 10 other human rights workers were arrested in July ’17 and imprisoned, now awaiting trial, on trumped up charges of terrorism.
Eser and her fellow workers were attending a human rights workshop (these are a familiar and regular part of human rights work and take place all over the world) when they were arrested for supposedly aiding terror groups. She is also being detained with Turkey’s Amnesty International Chair, Taner Kiliç, who was arrested on similar charges back in June.
Not only has Turkey shown an alarming response to Amnesty International’s work but it is also unlawful response. Sir Allan Duncan, minister for Europe has been quoted as saying: “We continue to urge the Turkish authorities to uphold international standards with regard to the rule of law, including the presumption of innocence, and to protect fundamental rights including freedom of expression and assembly.”
Eser and her colleagues are to be incarcerated until trial which could be years due to the accumulation of cases preceding theirs. What is shocking and hard to believe is that Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was once held in a Turkish prison for reading an Islamic poem. It was, of all organisations, Amnesty Internationl that campaigned for his freedom and saw him released.
When a country can treat human rights workers in this vain it raises a very worrying concern about where we are in moving forward with issues of equality and injustice. Whilst we see advancements each day in so many areas of human rights, as so many of us work together for change, there are still too many people unwilling to let go of their power and control to allow freedom to break through. But it is people like Eser and Kiliç that show us that we must never give up. They’ve not been locked up because of what they have done wrong but because of what they have done right-working to bring freedom for all. We must continue with this work, never being deterred by the bully’s who are threatened by us, but encouraged that we are getting under their skin. I’m not sure that I’m as brave as Idil Eser but I’m going to try and be.
Thankfully Eser seems to remain in good spirits, recently thanking her colleagues and friends for their continued support and help in a letter which you can read on Amnesty International’s website. She is keen to resume her work and seems undeterred by her treatment. What an amazing and inspiring woman!
If you want to join in helping Idil Eser come to freedom click here and add your name to the fight. Let’s run this race together!