International Women’s Day: Take Action for Pınar Selek (Türkiye)

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day 2024, PEN International features the case of sociologist, writer, feminist, and PEN Türkiye member Pınar Selek, who has faced a decades-long trial over a 1998 explosion that killed seven and injured 127, and is now the subject of an international arrest warrant.

“Pınar Selek’s story is one of resilience and unwavering dedication to truth and justice. As a sociologist, writer, and feminist, she has fearlessly championed minority rights and shed light on marginalized communities. Her decades-long ordeal, marked by repeated trials and unjust persecution, is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her principles. Let us stand in solidarity with Pınar Selek, urging the authorities of Türkiye to drop all charges against her and put an end to this prolonged injustice once and for all’. Zoë Rodriguez, Chair of PEN International Women Writers’ Committee.

Take action today for Pınar Senek.

Sociologist, author, feminist, and renowned member of PEN Türkiye, Pınar Selek has been the subject of a prolonged legal battle spanning decades, following a tragic 1998 explosion in the Istanbul Spice Bazaar, which claimed seven lives and left 127 injured. Despite being acquitted in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2014, based on expert testimony confirming a gas leak as the cause, the courts ordered retrials after each acquittal. Her fourth trial culminated in a conviction in January 2013, and an aggravated life sentence.

Türkiye’s Supreme Court of Appeals overturned this conviction on procedural grounds on June 11 2014. Subsequently, on December 19, 2014, the 15th High Criminal Court in Istanbul acquitted her of all charges. However, in a devastating turn, Türkiye’s Supreme Court overturned Selek’s fourth acquittal on June 21, 2022. While her trial before the Istanbul Criminal Court opened on March 31, 2023, the proceedings were postponed to September 29, 2023, and subsequently adjourned to June 28, 2024. Selek remains the subject of an international arrest warrant.

Born on October 8, 1971, Selek has extensively covered issues concerning women, the underprivileged, street children, the LGBTI community, and the Kurds in Türkiye. Selek co-founded Amargi, a Turkish feminist journal, and her latest book, Azucena ou Les fourmis zinzines, was published in April 2022. Since 2012, she has been residing in France, holding both French and Turkish citizenship.

PEN International believes that Selek’s prosecution is directly tied to her tireless advocacy for minority rights and Kurdish communities in the 1990s, and that she is being unjustly targeted through the judicial system as a punitive measure for her legitimate research and commentary. These concerns are heightened by allegations that Selek endured torture during her imprisonment from 1998 to 2000, aimed at coercing a confession to the charges against her.

PEN International urgently calls upon the authorities of Türkiye to put an end to their relentless harassment of Selek and to immediately drop all charges against her.

Take Action

Please send appeals to the authorities of Türkiye:

  • Expressing concern that another trial has been opened against Pınar Selek on charges of which she has already been acquitted by courts of law four times;
  • Urging that the charges against Selek are dismissed;
  • Calling for the decades-long judicial harassment of Selek to end once and for all.

Please send appeals immediately to:

Yılmaz Tunç
Role: Minister of Justice
Address: Ministry of Justice, Adalet Bakanlığı, 06659 Ankara, Türkiye

Send copies to the Embassy of Türkiye in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here. Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Türkiye, calling on them to raise the case of Pınar Selek in bilateral fora.

Please inform PEN International of any action you take and any responses you receive. Messages can be sent to Aurélia Dondo, Head of Europe and Central Asia Region: