|KHRP Marks Day of the Imprisoned Writer|
On ‘The Day of the Imprisoned Writer’, organised by the ‘Writers in Prison Committee’ of International PEN, KHRP wishes to draw attention to the plight of writers in the Kurdish regions who continue to be imprisoned, tortured, killed and intimidated.
Despite amendments to the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code earlier this year, writers in Turkey still work in a hostile environment. Later this month Baris Pehlivan and Nurettin Yilmaz will face trial in connection with a television program that Pehlivan produced which discussed Witness of the Recent Past, the former Kurdish politician Yilmaz’s account of his imprisonment and torture between 1980 and 1984. If convicted of ‘inciting hatred and hostility’, each could face up to four and a half years in prison.
In Syria and Iran the situation is, if anything, even more dire. Just last month, an Iranian appeals court upheld an 11-year prison sentence for the Kurdish journalist and human rights activist Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand. The former editor of the Message of the People of Kurdistan has been incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since July 2007, without adequate medical care despite reportedly suffering from serious health problems.
Other Kurdish writers have been forced into exile, like the journalist Roya Toloui who fled Iran after being released on bail pending trial for endangering national security. Still others face extra-judicial threats, as with journalist Hrant Dink, who was murdered in Turkey in 2007, and the Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, who is reported to have been on the hit-list of the ultra-nationalist Ergenekon network whose members are currently facing trial.
‘Throughout the Kurdish regions, the right of journalists and other writers to freedom of expression is given very short shrift,’ said KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz. ‘It is not just the individual writers themselves who suffer when they are threatened, harassed, jailed, attacked and killed. Entire societies also lose the opportunity for the sharing of ideas and constructive debate on issues that affect everyone living in these regions. The international community must stand side-by-side with oppressed writers to ensure that their voices are heard.’