Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Don't let Turkish women's rights activist stay in jail for 15 years


Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey , PEN American Center , Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International

On 30 April, prominent translator and cultural and women's rights activist Ayşe Berktay won the 2013 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. But she was not there in New York to accept the award. Instead, she is currently in jail in Turkey, awaiting the next hearing of her trial on 27 May. She could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Police arrested Berktay on 3 October 2011, and she was eventually charged under the Anti-Terror Law with “membership of an illegal organisation” for allegedly “planning to stage demonstrations aimed at destabilising the state, plotting to encourage women to throw themselves under police vehicles so as to create a furor, and attending meetings outside Turkey on behalf of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK),” a banned pro-Kurdish party.

Anti-terrorism legislation has long been used by the authorities to justify the jailing of writers, publishers, journalists, academics, and politicians in Turkey. In November 2012, a PEN International delegation visited Ankara to express concern about the alarming rise in prosecutions of writers and journalists in the last two years, noting that more than 70 writers and journalists are currently in prison, and at least 60 other writers, publishers, and journalists are on trial.

Some journalists were released at the end of April pending trial, but not Berktay.

Will you join PEN American Center, PEN International, the Initiative for Freedom of Expression in Turkey and two dozen other IFEX member organisations worldwide who signed an appeal to free her?

Please sign the petition calling on the Minister of Justice to free Berktay and all those jailed in violation of their right to free expression now! 

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