Take action to support the cases of writers imprisoned in Turkey, including Ahmet Altan, Ilhan Sami Çomak, Osman Kavala and Nedim Türfent.November 15, 2020
To mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2020, Scottish PEN partnered with Wales PEN Cymru to host a free online event focused on imprisoned writers in Turkey.
A recording of the event will be available on our YouTube channel in due course. In the meantime, there are several actions supporters can take to contribute to the causes of Ahmet Altan, Ilhan Sami Çomak, Osman Kavala and Nedim Türfent.
Scottish PEN has drafted a template letter that can be adapted and used to contact leaders in the UK Government and Turkey, calling for action.
For writers facing long prison sentences, increased risks to their health and unjust restrictions on their limited freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving letters of solidarity can make a huge difference. Please consider finding the time to contact the writers we are shining a spotlight on this year:
Poet lhan Sami Çomak is Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner, and was held in pre-trial detention for 22 years until his life sentence was confirmed in 2015 on the basis of a statement signed under duress after 19 days of continuous, heavy torture to the effect that he had lit forest fires near Istanbul in the name of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Ilhan has always maintained his innocence.
Write to Ilan: Ilhan Sami Çomak, Silivri 5 Numarali Cezaevi F9 ALT, SILIVRI, Istanbul, Turkey
Journalist Nedim Türfent has been imprisoned since May 2016, shortly after reporting on Turkish special police forces’ ill-treatment of around 40 Turkish and Kurdish workers and following a trial which he was denied the right to attend, and at which 19 out of 20 witnesses called said their initial statements against Nedim Türfent were obtained under torture, leaving him deprived of his freedom and the right to practice his profession.
Write to Nedim: Van Yüksek Güvenlikli, Kapal? Ceza ?nfaz Kurumu, Ko?u? A-44, Van, Turkey
Writer and journalist Ahmet Altan is serving a 10-and-a-half year prison sentence on trumped up charges of ‘knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organisation’ following a pattern of judicial harassment and proceedings marred by violations of his right to a fair trial, curtailing his ability to peacefully exercise his right to freedom of expression and to report transparently on the issues faced by people in Turkey.
Write to Ahmet: Ahmet Altan, Silivri 9 Numaral? Cezaevi, SILIVRI, Istanbul, Turkey
Civil society leader and publisher Osman Kavala was immediately re-arrested following his acquittal in the ‘Gezi Park’ trial, after the European Court of Human Rights has previously found that his 928-day arbitrary detention violated his right to freedom of expression. David Diaz-Jogeix, Senior Director of Programmes at ARTICLE 19, has characterised this as ‘[h]iding behind legal technicalities to [mask] judicial harassment aimed at intimidating the individuals involved, and society at large, into silence.’
Write to Osman: Osman Kavala, Silivri Kapal? Ceza ?nfaz Kurumu, 9 No’lu Cezaevi, A-7 / C 5934570, SILIVRI, Istanbul
This booklet contains an overview of Ilhan’s case as Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner , a selection of his beautiful poetry, and a summary of recent activity to support his release.
Osman Kavala shared a message with our event attendees to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2020.
Watch a message of solidarity and Scots poetry translation from writer James Robertson here: