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Necmiey Alpay

Free Turkish Translator Necmiye Alpay

Bekir Bozdağ, Minister of Justice, Turkey
CC: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey

Dear Minister Bozdağ:

We the undersigned translators, writers, editors, publishers, journalists, bloggers, artists, and free expression advocates around the world, in solidarity with the Turkish Association of Translators (ÇEVBİR) and with the support of PEN America, PEN International, English PEN, PEN Turkey, and the Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires (CEATL), are writing to express our concern at the arrest and imprisonment of translator, editor, critic, author, and linguist Necmiye Alpay, and at the crackdown on peaceful dissent in Turkey in the wake of the attempted coup of July 2016.

On August 31, 2016, as part of an ongoing investigation into the closed daily Özgür Gündem, Istanbul’s Eighth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the arrest of Alpay on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization and disrupting the unity of the state. She denies all charges against her. We believe that Alpay is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free expression and we call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Alpay received her B.A. degree from Ankara University and her Ph.D. degree from Paris University at Nanterre. Her translations into Turkish include works by Said, Girard, Ricoeur, and Marchand. She has devoted much of her career to improving the quality of written Turkish, and has penned several books on the subject. She has also worked as an editor for various periodicals and is a regular contributor to several newspapers.

Necmiye Alpay has always been a staunch defender of free expression and a voice calling for peace. As such she was a member of the advisory board of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, a position she held as a symbol of her support for free expression. On August 16, the Turkish state shut down the newspaper temporarily for “supporting terrorism,” and since then, everyone involved with Özgür Gündem has been under investigation. Turkish officials have charged Alpay with “being a member of an armed terrorist group” and have imprisoned her awaiting trial, on the pretext that “she might flee.”

Alpay is just one of many academics, writers, and journalists who have been jailed awaiting trial. Her imprisonment is a politically motivated move by the Turkish state to silence voices calling for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict. Minister Bozdağ, we urge you:

1. To release Necmiye Alpay immediately, along with writer Aslı Erdoğan and the other journalists and employees of Özgür Gündem who have been detained.

2. To stop your government’s suppression of peaceful dissent and free expression for individuals and the media, and to end harassment and persecution of intellectuals and other members of civil society who support a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in Turkey.


Alex Zucker, cochair, PEN America Translation Committee
Allison Markin Powell, cochair, PEN America Translation Committee
Raficq Abdulla, writer
Alev Adil, writer
Joel Agee, writer, translator
Esther Allen, translator
Pete Ayrton, editor
Susan Bernofsky, translator and writer
Wayles Browne, linguist and translator
Nick Caistor, translator, journalist
Margaret Carson, translator, professor of Modern Languages, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Robert Chandler, translator of Vasily Grossman
Jessica Cohen, translator
Jonathan Cohen, translator, member of PEN America Translation Committee
Peter Cole, poet and translator
David Constantine, writer and translator
Margaret Jull Costa, translator
Lydia Davis, writer and translator
Sasha Dugdale, editor, Modern Poetry in Translation
Ellen Elias-Bursac, literary translator
Miranda France, writer and translator
Maureen Freely, president of English PEN
Forrest Gander, writer, translator
Lynn Gaspard, publisher
Edith Grossman, translator
Daniel Hahn, writer and translator, English PEN
Nicky Harman, co-chair, UK Translators Association
Adina Hoffman, writer
Amanda Hopkinson, translator, writer, professor of literary translation
Pierre Joris, poet, essayist, translator
Suzanne Jill Levine, writer, translator, professor, University of California
Tess Lewis, translator, member of PEN America Translation Committee
Toby Lichtig, editor
Antonia Lloyd-Jones, co-chair, UK Translators Association
Canan Marasligil, translator
Michael F. Moore, translator
Mary Ann Newman, translator, member of PEN America Translation Committee
Lulu Norman, translator
Tim Parks, writer and translator
Richard Pevear, translator
Samantha Schnee, chair of English PEN’s Writers in Translation Committee
Marian Schwartz, translator
Ros Schwartz, translator, member of English PEN
Rebecca Servadio, literary scout
Katherine Silver, translator
Simona Škrabec, chair, PEN International’s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee
Sandra Smith, translator, member of PEN America Translation Committee
Burhan Sönmez, writer and translator
Cole Swensen, poet, translator
Russell Valentino, translator, professor of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, Indiana University
Larissa Volokhonsky, translator
Rosmarie Waldrop, poet and translator
Shaun Whiteside, translator

This petition is now closed.

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jan 01, 1970

Signatures collected: 1510

Signature goal: 1500

1,510 of 1,500 signatures

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