Transparency International expresses concern at the detention of human rights defender Yiğit Aksakaloğlu and the ongoing investigation against 12 other members of civil society and academia. It asks the Turkish authorities to stop the arrests of civil society organisation members and academics, giving them the space to operate freely and express their views without fear of reprisal.
Transparency International believes Yiğit Aksakaloğlu should be immediately and unconditionally released, and the investigations against other academics and activists dropped. Freedom of assembly and expression are basic civil liberties and citizens’ rights to peaceful protest cannot be questioned in any democratic society.
The arrests on 16 November 2018 of these leading academics and NGO activists were in connection with their involvement in anti-government protests in Istanbul and elsewhere, which ended over five years ago, according to a statement by the Istanbul police.
Almost exactly 68 years ago, on 4 November 1950, Turkey signed the European Convention on Human Rights and it has a responsibility under this convention to protect human rights and political freedoms.
Transparency International appeals to the Government of the Republic of Turkey to uphold the country’s constitution and the international conventions it has signed, committing it to support the basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly.
Civil society organisations should be able to conduct their legitimate and peaceful operations without threat of arrest in an environment in which they can contribute to society on issues of accountability, good governance, integrity and human rights. Civil society is key to strengthening societies and improving the lives of their citizens.
A government that arrests civil society members for peaceful civil disobedience and non-violent protest severely undermines its credibility as a democratic regime that respects human rights and the rule of law.
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