PEN International calls EU Commission to show solidarity with Turkey’s detained activists

A prominent literary organisation, PEN International, called on European institutions to demonstrate solidarity with detained Turkish civil society activists and said that the release of the activists should be a pre-condition for economic dealings with Turkey. 

Thirteen Turkish academics, intellectuals, and civil society activists were detained by the police on Friday morning over their links to the nationwide Gezi Park protests in 2013.

The police operation is linked to the case of Turkish philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who has been imprisoned for more than a year without seeing official charges. Kavala is the founder of a Turkish peace and democracy organisation, Anadolu Kültür, and most of the names detained today are related to this organisation.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to end their relentless crackdown on dissenting voices. They must immediately and unconditionally release all those held for peacefully expressing their views, and those against whom they have not provided evidence of internationally recognisable crimes,” Carles Torner, executive director of PEN International, said. 

The organisation recalled that the European Commission’s Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn are scheduled to visit Turkey on Nov. 22 for a high level dialogue with Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. 

“PEN insists that representatives of European Institutions demonstrate their solidarity with Turkey’s civil society and pressure Turkey to release these and other civil society activists. Such releases should be a condition in any economic dealings with Turkey,” the organisation said. 

Maureen Freely, Chair of English PEN’s board of trustees, noted in her statement the alarming situation of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“Yet again Erdoğan, Turkey’s most prolific writer of fiction, has concocted a grotesquely mendacious story to justify a roundup of academics and civil society leaders. Among them I count treasured friends who have nothing but the best interests of their country and humanity at heart. I call on our governments to act promptly and vigorously on their behalf,” she said.
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