From the day that the prosecutor ruled my detention, until now, everything has been upside down. I am speechless and now going back to Silivri [prison] to pack my bag. —Büşra Ersanli

Büşra Ersanli, university professor and political scientist, was among 16 people freed on July 13 upon the closure of the first hearing of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (Koma Civaken Kurdistan, or KCK) case held in a court in Silivri prison, outside Istanbul. However, the trial will resume on October 1, and it is likely to go on for some months. While welcoming Ersanli’s release, PEN International remains concerned that the writers, academics, and journalists charged in this case are being tried in violation of their rights to non-violent freedom of expression and association. These are principles to which the Turkish government is committed as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

>> Read PEN’s letter of appeal

Background Information

Over 200 people are being tried in the KCK trial, half of whom remain in prison. Among the defendants are writers, journalists, and academics. These include publisher and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu, university professor and political scientist Büşra Ersanlı, and translator and academic Ayşe Berktay. The three face sentences of 7.5 to 22.5 years in prison if found guilty as charged under the Anti-Terror Law (ATL).

Ragip Zarakolu, who has had a long history of legal battles with the Turkish authorities over his publications, is accused of “aiding and abetting an illegal organization.” Ersanlı, who has written on minority rights in Turkey and has provided advice on constitutional issues to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), is accused of “leadership of an illegal organization.” Berktay, an academic and translator specializing in Kurdish issues, is accused of taking part in KCK’s “overseas operations” through her attendance at events such as the World Social Forum and the European Network for Peace and Human Rights. All three were arrested in October 2011. Zarakolu was released pending trial in April 2012; Berktay remains detained. Also still in prison in this case is Deniz Zarakolu, an academic and translator, and son of Ragip Zarakolu.

Write A Letter

Welcoming the release pending trial of Büşra Ersanli;

  • Expressing regret that she was not freed unconditionally


  • Expressing concern that Professor Büşra Ersanlı, translator Ayşe Berktay, publisher Ragip Zarakolu and his son Deniz Zarakolu, and other writers and journalists are similarly being tried because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties;


  • Expressing concern that the arrests flout international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

Minister of Justice
Mr Sadullah Ergin
06669 Kizilay
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Turkey in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after October 1, 2012: