Archive for the ‘Turkey’ Category


Recent events reveal western government’s attitudes to human rights

The events of the last few weeks in Istanbul, with the possible murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy, has put a spotlight on the western government’s attitude to human rights and the rule of law.

For several years now we have been happy to sell arms to Saudi and we have been largely quiescent during the bombing of Yemen.  Yemen has been in the news recently with filmed reports of the increasingly desperate state the country and its people are in.  Reports of bombing of civilian targets and medical facilities receive brief coverage but do not however, generate much outrage.

The scale of misery there is now huge and represents a major tragedy.  The Saudi forces, aided by UK arms and military personnel, have wreaked terrible harm on the country.  A whole list of non-military targets has been bombed including ports, food production facilities and refugee camps.  As many as 13 million people are now suffering there.  Yet our politicians are largely silent and the ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, is feted here by the Royal family and others.

By contrast,  the possible killing of this journalist has plunged the Saudi kingdom into crisis and led to many politicians withdrawing from the forthcoming Davos in the Desert.  

Much of our media seemed happy to accept the idea that MbS, as he is known, was a moderniser and were excited when he allowed women to drive for the first time.  They overlooked the locking up of journalists, lawyers and human rights workers and did not notice that the woman who campaigned for the right for women to drive was in prison.  It was as though a hint of reform was enough to switch off any critical assessment of his actual performance as a despot.  Executions continue at an alarming rate and Human Rights Watch noted a spate of 48 in a four month period earlier in the year, mostly for non-violent offences.  Torture is still routine.

All this shows that the real concern is the sale of weapons and the supply of oil.  It is fair to argue that MbS knew our politicians were more concerned about trade than they were about human rights or international justice.  This is likely to have led him to believe he could remove the irritant of someone like Khashoggi and after a brief fuss, life would carry on.  He may well be right.

At present, we cannot know how this crisis will pan out for the Saudi government.  Western governments are going through contortions trying to balance the need to keep in with the regime to protect commercial interests, with some kind of need to show a moral standing in the face of credible reports that Khashoggi may have been murdered and dismembered in the embassy.  Liam Fox waited two weeks until today (18 October) to cancel his visit to the Future Investment Initiative.  Amnesty is calling for an investigation.

Today’s Daily Mail newspaper revealed the large number of MPs and ministers – mostly Conservative with a few Labour – who have accepted hospitality and gifts from the regime not all of them declared.  They include the Chancellor who was given an expensive watch.  The total, the paper reveals, is more than £200,000 since 2015 and £106,000 this year.  Allan Hogarth of Amnesty International  said in the article:

Any MP tempted by a lavish trip to Saudi Arabia ought to bear in mind that jailed Saudi human rights defenders are currently languishing in jail, while the Saudi coalition’s lethal bombing of Yemen is making lives miserable for thousands of poor and malnourished Yemenis.
Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record is well-documented, and no parliamentarian should go to the country without being prepared to publicly raise human rights.

George Graham, of Save the Children, said:

For three years Saudi Arabia has been killing children in Yemen, quite possibly with British-made weapons. The fighting has driven millions of families to the brink of famine and created the worst cholera epidemic in living memory. Our leaders must do what’s right and stop fuelling this conflict with military and political support for one side in this brutal war.  Daily Mail online [accessed 19 October 2018]

The naiveté of the MPs is astonishing and some of their comments are quite disgraceful in view of the appalling human rights record of the country.  It is unlikely that they will be pushing the government to adopt a more vigorous line in future.

However, it has put our relationship with an unsavoury regime in the spotlight and with papers like the Mail giving space to the story, there are slender grounds for optimism.


In our next blog, we shall be listing forthcoming events.  If you live in the Salisbury, Amesbury or Downton area and are interested in joining, please have a look and come along and make yourself known.  It is free to join our group.

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NEWSFLASH
Taner Kılıç has been freed from jail in Turkey

The Salisbury group, along with hundreds of other Amnesty groups around the world, has been campaigning for Taner Kiliç, the Honorary Chair of Amnesty International Turkey.  He has walked out of prison in Istanbul we have just heard after 432 days of torment, unable to hug his wife and daughters, he’s now free.

It’s been over a year of campaigning and struggle.  More than a million of us joined our voices to Free Taner.  Finally, Taner is FREE and with his family.

Six months ago Taner was released on bail, but in a hard-to-imagine stroke of cruelty, he was rearrested the moment he got out – before his family could even hug him and find out if he was OK.

This is why we do what we do.  This is why we advocate, why we make our voices heard, why we stand up for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned when they defend human rights.  Because it works.

Our thanks to all those in Salisbury and surrounding areas, who signed our petition and signed cards for his release.


It is free to join the local group and the best thing to do is keep an eye on this site and come to one of our events and make yourself known.  You can also send a message here or on our Facebook page


Happy Birthday Taner

On 6 June 2017, our friend and colleague Taner Kılıç, a human rights lawyer and the Chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested.  He has been in prison ever since.  Taner is currently on trial, charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization”.  If found guilty he faces up to 15 years in jail.  He has done nothing wrong.  Taner is not a terrorist, Taner is a human rights defender and lawyer.  Taner was one of the first lawyers in Turkey to advocate for the rights of refugees and has spent his working life trying to better the situation of refugees who have fled to Turkey.

Members of the Salisbury group of Amnesty send birthday greetings to Taner.

Salisbury group, Taner

Members of the Salisbury group. Pic: Salisbury Amnesty


If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome.  Come along to one of our actions and make yourself known.  Details will be posted here and on Twitter and Facebook – salisburyai


Message from Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty

“Yesterday, it was announced that Taner Kılıç had finally been released after eight gruelling months in jail.  Taner was inches away from freedom.  But while Taner’s wife and daughter excitedly waited for him to walk out of prison and into their arms, he was re-arrested and taken back into custody.  This is hugely upsetting and disappointing – and completely unacceptable.

“Now we need to come together, to show our strength and power.  Please will you join us in sharing this urgent action for Taner’s freedom and demand the Turkish Minister of Justice release Taner?  Let’s be clear – Taner is not a terrorist.  He is a lawyer and human rights defender whose brave work threatens Turkey’s oppressive regime.  That’s why he’s been targeted.

“The news of his re-arrest is not only heartbreaking, it is hugely alarming.  This latest news exposes the crisis in Turkey’s justice system that is ruining lives.  Turkey ignoring the overwhelming evidence of his innocence and his re-detention only deepens our strength to continue to fight on Taner’s case.

“Taner should now be home and reunited with his family. With you on our side, hopefully we can still make that happen. We won’t give up. Thank you again for you on-going support during this difficult time.”

Kate Allen
Director
Amnesty International UK


The chair of Amnesty in Turkey has been arrested

Taner Kuliç who is the chair of Amnesty International in Turkey, has been detained by the Turkish authorities having been wrongly accused of being a member of a terrorist group.  This is further evidence of just how shockingly widespread the arbitrary nature of post crackdown Turkey has become.

The crackdown since the failed government coup on 15 July 2016 has been astonishingly widespread. The numbers reported by CNN as of April 2017 are as follows:

  • Detentions: 113,260

  • Arrests: 47,115

  • Journalists dismissed: 2,708

  • Media outlets shut down: 179

We expect these numbers to have risen even higher since.

Please follow the link and send a message to the Turkish government.  Thank you.


If you live in the Salisbury area we would welcome new members to our group.  The simplest thing is to come to one of our events and details of what we are doing can be found at the end of our minutes or by keeping an eye on Twitter.  You can also enter ‘Salisbury amnesty’ into a search engine.


In partnership with Salisbury Arts Centre, we shall be showing the film Mustang on 15 December 2016.  This award winning film by a Turkish director concerns five girls growing up in a northern Turkish town.  On their way home from school they meet some boys and start some harmless frolics in the sea.  This is reported to their parents and thus begins a life of confinement, forced marriage and control.

We are delighted to say that there will be a short presentation at the start by Prof. Lucy Mazdom who is Head of the Film Department at Southampton University.   Her research interests include French and American film; contemporary French and British television; transnational film studies; remakes; film history in a global context and issues of cinematic distribution, exhibition and reception.

After the showing, the local group will asking people to sign a petition (to be decided nearer the time).

Tickets are available at the Arts Centre.


Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  If you are interested in joining local group, make yourself known at the film to one of us at the signing table.  It is free to join the local group.  Details on the ‘Joining’ tab on the home page.