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Title: Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Pinar Selek of Turkey
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: Scholars at Risk
Country: Turkey
Published Date:
February 28, 2013


Scholars at Risk Network is gravely concern over reports that Ms. Pınar Selek of Turkey, a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Strasbourg, was convicted in absentia on January 24, 2013 and sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment for her alleged role in a 1998 explosion at an Istanbul market.

SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to ensure that Ms. Selek receives a fair opportunity to appeal this recent sentence before an impartial tribunal, that any charges or convictions related to her academic activities are lifted, and that in the interim, her case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with Turkey’s obligations under international law.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 300 universities and colleges in 34 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.

Ms. Pınar Selek is a writer and scholar whose research and writing focuses on women in disadvantaged or marginalized groups, including street children, prostitutes, transgendered individuals, and Kurdish communities. Scholars at Risk understands that because of her work with Kurdish populations, Ms. Selek was charged with “membership in an illegal organization” under Turkey’s Anti Terror Law, a charge reflecting the authorities’ allegation that Ms. Selek’s research on Kurdish issues links her to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is banned in Turkey and designated a terrorist organization by multiple countries. We understand that an allegation linking Ms. Selek to the PKK was seriously discredited when the accuser recanted his statement in court and stated that he gave Ms. Selek’s name after being tortured. We further understand that Ms. Selek disavows the allegation that she is a member or otherwise associated with the PKK, and rather that this charge against her stems only from her research and writing on Kurdish issues.

Scholars at Risk understands that it is Ms. Selek’s alleged ties to the PKK which have led to her accusation of acting as an accomplice in a 1998 explosion at the Istanbul Spice Bazaar. We further understand that after being arrested in July 1998, she was detained in an Istanbul prison for more than two years and was allegedly tortured while being interrogated about her Kurdish research subjects. She was released after forensic testing determined the blast was likely caused by a gas leak. The prosecution of Ms. Selek continued, however, and in June 2006 the Istanbul 12th Heavy Criminal Court declined to make a ruling after all the prosecution’s witnesses recanted their statements. After successive remands from the Court of Cassation, Ms. Selek was acquitted twice by the Istanbul 12th Heavy Criminal Court in May 2008 and February 2011. It is our understanding that, in November 2012, during the presiding judge’s leave of absence, the Istanbul 12th Heavy Criminal Court decided to review the case for a fourth time and found Ms. Selek guilty. On January 24, 2013, she was sentenced in absentia to aggravated life imprisonment. We have learned that an arrest warrant has since been issued for Ms. Selek and sent to Interpol.

Absent any additional or contrary information, the facts as described appear to indicate that Ms. Selek was arrested and charged as a result of nonviolent expressive activity and association with others, conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory, and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is party.

Scholars at Risk therefore respectfully urges the appropriate authorities to ensure that Ms. Selek receives a fair opportunity to appeal this recent sentence before an impartial tribunal, that any charges or convictions related to her academic activities are lifted, and that in the interim, her case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with Turkey’s obligations under international law.

Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:

- respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to ensure that Ms. Selek receives a fair opportunity to appeal this recent sentence before an impartial tribunal;

- respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to ensure that any charges or convictions related to her academic activities are lifted; and

- respectfully urging appropriate authorities to ensure that her case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with Turkey’s obligations under international law.

PLEASE WRITE TO:

President Abdullah Gül
Office of the President
Cumhurbaskanligi Kosku
Cankaya
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 470 13 16

COPIES TO:

Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 3370

The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

The Honorable John F. Kerry
United States Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520, USA

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to [YOUR COUNTRY]
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]
(See http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa for a list of Turkish embassies worldwide.)

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the Republic of Turkey
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]

Scholars at Risk
New York University
194 Mercer Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10012, USA
scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu
Fax: +1 212-995-4402


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