Updated: Wed, 06/09/2021 - 03:00

Director of Amnesty International Turkey, İdil Eser, was among the 10 human rights defenders arrested after a workshop held in Büyükada (Istanbul) on July 5, 2017, was raided by the police forces. She was brought before the prosecutor for committing “an offence on behalf of an organization, although s/he is not a member of that organization” and being “a member of an armed terrorist organization” and detained. The indictment against her was not made public until 3 months into her detention. The final hearing took place on July 3, 2020, where she was sentenced to one year and 13 months in prison for “aiding an armed terrorist organization knowingly and willingly”. Eser currently lives abroad. İdil Eser graduated from Üsküdar American Academy in Istanbul. She received a BA in Business Administration from Istanbul University and a MA in International Relations from Columbia University. She was working towards her PhD in Russian History at the University of Chicago when her mother’s health deteriorated, and she returned to Turkey.  Eser drafted reports, implemented projects, and was involved in strategizing and program development for rights organizations such as Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA), History Foundation (formerly known as Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı), Helsinki Yurttaşlar Derneği (Helsinki Citizens Assembly – Turkey branch), Médecins Sans Frontières. She worked as a network building specialist for the Civil Society Public Sector Cooperation (SKIP) Project. She gave lectures on how to draft budgets for projects at the Bilgi University Social Projects and NGO Management Program. She was one of the co-author of the book titled Project Cycle Management (in Turkish) published by the Center for Civil Society Studies at the same university. She became the Director of Amnesty International Turkey on May 2, 2016. Concurrently, she worked as an independent translator and translated several works into Turkish.  İdil Eser lost her father during her high school years, and her mother passed away at a later stage. Her lawyer was the only person who could visit her during her detention since she did not have any living first degree family members. Eser’s friends submitted a request to the Ministry of Justice to visit her, which was denied. Amnesty International General Secretary Salil Shetty managed to meet with the Ministry of Justice and secured the permission to visit her. Eser was released after the first hearing held at the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court on October 25, 2017.  The final hearing took place on July 3, 2020. The Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court sentenced Eser to one year and 13 months in prison for “aiding an armed terrorist organization knowingly and willingly”.  3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice dismissed the request of appeal with prejudice and deemed subject to appeal.  Eser currently lives in Oslo, Norway.