TURKEY: Petition to free writer, translator and activist Ayşe Berktay

7 May 2013 – RAN 22/13 

Ayşe Berktay

PEN International, the Initiative for Free Expression in Turkey, PEN American Center and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange have launched a petition for the release of Ayşe Berktay, a writer, translator, activist, detained since October 2011. For details of her case, see below. The petition can be found on this link: ‘.((strlen(‘http://ifex.org/turkey/2013/05/06/free_ayse_petition/’)>40) ? substr(‘http://ifex.org/turkey/2013/05/06/free_ayse_petition/’,0,40).’…’ : ‘http://ifex.org/turkey/2013/05/06/free_ayse_petition/’).’

Please distribute this as widely and encourage as many people to sign on as you can.


On 30 April, prominent translator and cultural and women’s rights activist Ayşe Berktay won PEN America’s  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!

For more information go to:

PEN America Statement:  Top PEN Prize to Honor Jailed Turkish Translator Ayşe Berktay

You may also consider sending appeals by post or email:

  • Protesting the continued detention of Ayşe Berktay who is charged only for having been involved in legitimate, non-violent activism;
  • Pointing out that she has been held for over 18 months in pre-trial detention and that the practice of holding political prisoners for lengthy periods without conviction has been criticised both within Turkey and outside;
  • Urging that Ayşe Berktay be freed pending the speedy conclusion of her trial, and that it be recognised that the case against her is in breach of her right to freedom of expression and association and that she be acquitted;
  • Referring also to the fact that scores of other writers, journalists and activists are detained and on trial on charges that similarly breach their right to peaceful freedom of expression and association, and these cases should also be discontinued.

Send appeals to:

Mr Sadullah Ergin

Minister of Justice

06669 Kizilay



Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Email: sadullahergin [at] adalet.gov [dot] tr

Also to the Turkish ambassador in your country.