Europe Newsletter November 2023

The latest update from the AIUK Europe Country Coordinators Team:-


As the year 2023 nears its closure we can report some positive developments from Türkiye and Poland but there are still many Human Rights Challenges! Please find an Urgent Action for Türkiye.

There are also leaflets for the 2 demonstrations we are organising: For Saturday 2nd December we are gathering at 3pm in front of the Polish Embassy in London at 47 Portland Place. We have teamed up with a number of Polish organisations to call for the prosecution of Women’s Human Rights Defender Justyna Wydrzynska to be reversed and for women in Poland to have access to safe and legal abortions in Poland.

Please also sign the petition at

On 14th December Amnesty International is releasing the investigation into the drowning of 600 people when a small boat packed with an estimated 750 people sank near the coast of Greece. Together with Care4Calais we are organising a vigil outside the Embassy of Greece on 14th December at 3pm.  Please join us if you can!

Stop Deaths at Sea!  Vigil 14th Dec

Stop the Deaths at Sea! Safe and Legal routes for refugees! Seeking asylum is a Human Right! Refugees Welcome!  Vigil 14th December 3pm at the Embassy of Greece.

On 14th of June 2023 the “Adriana” packed with an estimated 750 refugees sank off the coast of Pylos, Greece. Over 600 people, many women and children died at sea.  Amnesty’s investigation points to the action of the Greek coastguard contributing to the sinking of the boat.  The full report will be released on Thursday the 14th December. The policies of Fortress Europe, to keep refugees out at all cost, have again cost many lives.  Amnesty Europe have teamed up with Care4Calais to organising a vigil outside the Embassy of Greece on 14th December, when the report is released. We are calling for safe and legal routes for refugees and for the Universal Human Right to seek asylum from persecution to be respected by all countries including the UK.

For further information on the demonstration please contact


Stand in Solidarity with Polish activists

Justyna Wydrzynska is a, co-founder of Aborcyjny Dream Team, an activist collective campaigning against abortion stigma and offering advice on accessing safe abortion in Poland.

In February 2020, during the first weeks of the COVID pandemic, Justyna was contacted by a woman in need of abortion. Her name was Ania; she suffered domestic violence and said she would rather die than continue her pregnancy. Justyna, a survivor of a violent relationship herself, knew she had to help. She sent the woman her own abortion pills through the post. For this act of compassion Justyna was found guilty of facilitating abortion and sentenced to 8 months’ community service at 30 hours a month.

Amnesty International believes women in Poland should have access to safe and legal abortions. Amnesty International is campaigning alongside Polish activists for Justyna’s sentence to be overturned.

Recent Polish parliamentary elections had shown unprecedented mobilisation of Polish women and LGBTQ+ communities, as voters, campaigners and candidates. The majority of Polish female voters supported the parties of democratic opposition and contributed to a political shift in Poland giving hope for a return to democratic standards. However, the future ruling coalition is clearly reluctant to confirm whether they will be supporting abortion rights, despite their campaign promises.

We need to stand in solidarity with abortion rights activists in Poland and to build ran international coalition of feminist and LGBTQ+ solidarity. We also need to send a clear message to the future Polish government demanding access to free and safe abortion. This is what Polish people voted for and it cannot be swept under the political carpet yet again!

Join us outside the Embassy of Poland on 2. December at 3pm to stand in solidarity with Justyna and other Polish women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights activists. We will be hearing from Polish campaigners and Justyna herself will be joining us on-line. See you there!

Links of other Polish organisations relating to this event:

Please also sign and circulate Amnesty’s petition calling for Justyna’s sentence to be overturned.


Elzbieta, Anna and Joanna still not free!

You remember the case of Elzbieta, Anna and Joanna, three Women’s and LGBT right defenders in Poland who distributed very tasteful posters depicting the virgin Mary with a rainbow-coloured halo, to show that the love of god doesn’t discriminate? For that they were charged with “insulting religion “. Despite the political pressure Polish courts are subjected to, first the local court, then the district court judged the three women “not guilty”. But the Minister of Justice, who is also the Public Prosecutor persevered and appealed for a second time, this time to the Supreme Court.

Please sign and share the petition !

At the last count, we totalled 293,422 actions from around the world on the action targeting the Minister of Justice –

Poland: Drop the appeal against Elżbieta, Anna and Joanna’s acquittal – Amnesty International.



Regulate the trade in policing equipment now

Amnesty teams and Omega Research Foundation have obtained access to the Milipol exhibition of wepons in order to ensure that no company presents the arms which violate current European law. The delegation noted that Chinese companies were promoting illegal law enforcement equipment that could be used to inflict torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Following our alerts, the Milipol salon took corrective measures. The measures taken are an example of good practice that other fairs should follow.

This is why we, as activists, continue advocating for regulation of the trade in policing equipment.

Unlike conventional weapons, there are no legally binding global rules governing the production and trade of law enforcement equipment.

Progress happens when we come together to demand change. We should be able to do this without fear of being harmed, hurt, or even killed by the misuse of policing equipment.

Demand your government supports a treaty to regulate the trade in policing equipment today to ensure it does not end in the hands of abusive police forces.

Across the Europe, peaceful protesters face waves of repression from police and military forces in deliberate attempts to crush dissent. While less lethal weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and batons are promoted as safer alternatives to firearms, all too often these weapons are used unlawfully to harass, intimidate, punish, or drive away protesters, undermining their right to peaceful assembly.

In France, 80-year-old Zineb Redouane was killed when, during a protest, a tear gas grenade struck her head. As long as there is no effective human rights-based controls more cases like Zineb will keep happening and the physical and psychological damage to individuals will continue.

We need governments all over the world to vote yes on a Torture-Free Trade Treaty at the United Nations, an organization created to maintain peace and end wars.

Sign the petition and demand your government to support a treaty to regulate the trade in policing equipment today.;


Saturday Mothers: Progress at Last

25 June 2022

11 November 2023




On 11 November, after over five years of being banned, 10 representatives of Saturday Mothers/People were allowed to read a short statement in front of the Galatasaray High School in Istanbul.

The last two Saturdays have seen a shift in the authorities approach to the group. On 4 November, for the first time since the beginning of April 2023  when the families have been attempting to hold their peaceful vigil in the Square, there were no detentions and a few relatives were allowed to leave carnations on the Square after negotiations with the police.

Then in the following week the Minister of Interior responded to a question about Saturday Mothers, stating that what they were facing was victimisation, and that a solution would be found as soon as possible. On Saturday 11 November, 10 relatives and other HRDs were allowed to read out a short statement by the square and disperse, again without police intervention and detentions. However the number of people allowed to take part was limited to 10 and there was still a heavy, intimidating, police presence

This positive development is welcome but still falls short of the full implementation of the Constitutional Court decisions. In November 2022 and March 2023 the court found that the two applicants (Maside Ocak and Gülseren Yoleri’s) right to freedom of peaceful assembly had been violated earlier on in the year that concluded the applicants’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly had been violated and that the authorities should prevent the reoccurrence of the violation.

Accordingly the AI International Secretariat (IS) would like us to to continue to write to the Turkish government as set out in a New Urgent Action to replace the one circulated some weeks ago.

Please find attached the new UA 101/23 calling on the Turkish authorities to ensure the ongoing police blockade on Galatasaray Square is lifted permanently without any further delay and Saturday Mothers/People and all others who wish to gather peacefully on the square are allowed to do so every week.Many thanks for all your work on this so far. Saturday Mothers/People have also expressed their appreciation to Amnesty International.

Gezi 7

Mücella Yapıcı (in white) meeting AI International Secretariat staff following her release from Bakırköy prison

As you can see from the joyful photograph above AI International staff – Türkiye researcher Begüm Başdaş (on left) and Senior Campaigner Türkiye Milena Buyum (on right) – have been in Istanbul to greet both Mücella Yapıcı and Hakan Altınay following their  release from prison. Both expressed their great gratitude to all the local amnesty groups in the UK who had written so many solidarity letters and cards to them while they were in prison. They wanted to pass on to you how very important this had been for their morale during incredibly difficult times.

The IS anticipates that they will have to face re-trials but have no idea when the dates will be.

There has been an interesting and in some ways quite revealing development in relation to Can Atalay. You may recall that in the May parliamentary elections he was elected to a seat in the Grand Assembly and his lawyers have been arguing that this gives him “immunity” so that he should be released from prison to fulfil his duties as an MP.

The Constitutional Court (CC) considered this submission and ruled for his release. Two weeks ago, in an unprecedented move, the Court of Cassation not only rejected the CC ruling for his release (as an elected MP), it also claimed the CC judges who had ordered his released had acted unlawfully, bringing out into the open splits in the judiciary in Türkiye.

Türkiye: Future strategy

Colleagues from the IS have been in Istanbul during the last week to talk to AI Türkiye colleagues and other relevant parties about the all the human right issues in the country and especially the Gezi 7, Saturday Mothers, Eren Keskin cases and the Right to Protest. They hope to announce the next stages in our campaign strategies in the next few weeks. We will set these out as soon as we have the information.

AIUK Europe Country Coordinators:-

For more information on the demonstrations contact

For information on Türkiye and the attached Urgent Action please contact Chris Ramsey

For information on Western Europe and the Right to protest please contact Jovana Bosnjak