Turkish Writer Ayşe Berktay Released from Prison

By | January 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm | No comments | News | Tags: , , ,

Honorary Member Ayşe Berktay released after 27 months pre-trial detention

PEN Canada’s Writers in Prison Committee welcomes the release of the writer, scholar and women’s rights activist Ayşe Berktay. Berktay was released by the Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court on December 20, 2013 – along with five others – after 27 months of pre-trial detention on what PEN believes to be trumped-up charges of “membership of a terrorist organization’ and ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” PEN calls for all charges against Berktay to be dropped and renews its calls for the immediate and unconditional release of translator Deniz Zarakolu, neither of whom have any material links to terrorism or the plotting of violent acts.

Upon her release, Berktay told Bianet news: “There are always political operations and there are always political attacks. But this was far way worse and inappropriate. It makes one ponder. It could happen to anybody.”

PEN remains concerned with ongoing threats to freedom of expression in Turkey, especially those related to writers affiliated with Kurdish groups. In October 2011, Berktay was imprisoned under Turkey’s Anti-Terror Laws with “membership of an illegal organization” and allegedly “planning to stage demonstrations aimed at destabilizing 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.” She was one of more than 1,800 people, including many writers and academics, swept up in mass arrests of supporters of Kurdish rights in Turkey. She is a member of the pro-Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP), which has 36 elected representatives in the Turkish Parliament.

Berktay’s trial date is set for January 30, 2014. If found guilty, she could face up to 15 years in prison.

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