January 29, 2010

Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizil
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern over the arrest of human rights lawyer, writer, and member of PEN Turkey Muharrem Erbey.

According to our information, members of the Anti-Terror Unit of the Diyabakir Security Directorate arrested Mr. Erbey at his home early on December 24, 2009. Around 80 others were arrested across the region, 23 of whom remain detained. Muharrem Erbey is being charged under Article 220/6 of the Penal Code with “membership of an illegal organization,” the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (KCK), which is said to be affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). At the time of his arrest, the offices of the Human Rights Association (IHD), of which Mr. Erbey is Vice President, were searched and documentation seized, including archives on serious human rights violations over the past two decades.  IHD has been documenting disappearances and extra-judicial killings in and around the Diyabakir region. Mr. Erbey is currently being held in Diyabakir D Type Prison.

PEN American Center believes that Muharrem Erbey has been arrested for his human rights advocacy, and urges that all charges against him be dropped immediately. We also call for a review of all legislation that allows for the prosecution of those who practice their rights as guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula                    
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems    
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Nabi Şensoy, Ambassador to the United States
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 612-6744

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