Turkey: Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu set to remain in pre-trial detention two years on from their arrest

English PEN shares PEN International’s concern that nearly two years since their arrests, writers Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu continue to be held in pre-trial detention. We call for their immediate release and for all charges against them and their co-defendants to be dropped.

PEN is deeply concerned by the refusal of an Istanbul court to release writer, translator, scholar and women’s rights activist Ayşe Berktay, who has been held in pre-trial detention as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) investigation for nearly two years. Berktay is on trial on what PEN believes to be trumped-up charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organisation’. Arrested as part of the same investigation in October 2011 is translator and PhD candidate Deniz Zarakolu. Zarakolu, who is charged with ‘leadership of a terrorist organisation’, also remains in pre-trial detention. PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of both writers, neither of whom have any material links to terrorism or the plotting of violent acts, and the dropping of all charges against them.

For further information on their cases, please visit the PEN International website.

TAKE ACTION

Messages of support

If you would like to send a message of support directly to Ayşe Berktay or Deniz Zarakolu, please email cat@englishpen.org for more details.

Social media

For those of you who are active on social media, please share information about these trials with your contacts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Please use the hashtag #pentrialmonitor so that we are able to track social media coverage more easily.

Letters of appeal

Please send appeals:

  • Expressing alarm at the continued detention of Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu, held solely on account of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release from prison, and for all charges against them to be dropped;
  • Referring to concerns that Berktay and Zarakolu are being prosecuted on charges that contravene their right to freedom of expression and association, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Appeals to:

Mr SadullahErgin
Ministry of Justice
06669 Kızılay
Ankara
Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 3370
Email: sadullahergin@adalet.gov.tr

His Excellency Mr. Ünal Çeviköz
43 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PA
Fax: 020 7393 9213
Email: embassy.london@mfa.gov.tr

Or you could use the form below.  A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=embassy.london@mfa.gov.tr‘ subject=”Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to protest the ongoing detention of writers Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu.

I was deeply concerned by the recent refusal of an Istanbul court to release Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu, both of whom have been held in pre-trial detention as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) investigation for nearly two years. Berktay is on trial on trumped-up charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, whilst Zarakolu is charged with ‘leadership of a terrorist organisation’. Neither writer has any material links to terrorism or the plotting of violent acts; they are believed to be being held solely on account of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties.

The arrests of Berktay and Zarakolu were part of a larger crackdown known as the KCK operation, which has been underway since 2009 and has led to thousands of arrests and trials. Defendants include a large number of writers and other literary professionals of concern to PEN, many of whom could face lengthy prison sentences if found guilty. Cases of particular concern include Deniz Zarakolu’s father, the publisher and activist Ragip Zarakolu, academic Professor Büşra Ersanlı, and lawyer and PEN Turkey member Muharrem Erbey.

There is widespread concern that those charged in this case are being tried in violation of their rights to non-violent freedom of expression and association. These are principles to which the Turkish government is committed as a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

I am therefore calling for the immediate release of Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu and for all charges against them to be dropped. I also call for the release of Muharrem Erbey, for the dropping of charges against Ragip Zarakolu and Büşra Ersanlı, and for the release of the numerous other writers currently detained in Turkey in violation of their rights to free expression.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu’s next hearing will run from 1 October to 10 October 2013. The main KCK trial in Diyarbakir, which includes human rights lawyer and advocate Muharrem Erbey, recommenced on 23 September 2013. The next hearing of another KCK-related trial – of 46 journalists in what is known as the ‘Press Wing trial’ – began today, 25 September 2013.

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