Human rights defenders detained by police in Istanbul on July 5, 2017. From bottom left: Nalan Erkem; Nejat Taştan; İlknur Üstün, İdil Eser, Özlem Dalkıran, Günal Kurşun.

© 2017 Bianet

(New York) – The recent arrest of 10 human rights activists is a “hammer blow to Turkey’s besieged civil society and an ominous indicator of the direction Turkey is heading in,” the leaders of five international organizations said today in an open letter to the Turkish government.

They urged the Turkish government to release the activists immediately and called on world leaders to “make a strong, determined and compelling case for human rights, dignity and justice.”

The letter is signed by Salil Shetty, secretary-general, Amnesty International; Ricken Patel, president, Avaaz; Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch; Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation; and Robin Hodess, internal managing director, Transparency International.

The peaceful human rights defenders were detained on July 5, 2017, at a workshop on protecting the work of human rights defenders and are under investigation for “membership of an armed terrorist organization.”