TURKEY: Sajjad Jahan Fard’s trial date set for April 20, 2017
PEN is concerned by the arrest and continued detention of Kurdish Iranian writer and journalist Sajjad Jahan Fard and of his friend Hassan Baladeh, who remain in pre-trial detention after a motion calling for their release was denied. Their trial will begin on April 20 on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.” They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
PEN fears that Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh are being targeted for their links with Kurdish intellectuals, academics, and publishing houses. PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to release them immediately.
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Please send appeals:
- Calling on the Turkish authorities to release Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh immediately;
- Calling for all detained writers and journalists to be released if they are not to be charged with a criminal offense and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
- Calling on the Turkish authorities not to use the state of emergency to crack down on freedom of expression, peaceful dissent, civil society, media, and education.
Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls to:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31
Email: [email protected]
Email: receptayyip.Erdoğ[email protected]
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after April 20, 2017. ***
Please send messages of support to Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh in prison at the following address:
Mr. Sajjad Jahan Fard / Mr. Hassan Baladeh
Mardin E Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi, Kotek, 47100
Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh were arrested on January 3, 2017, during a tourist visit to the city of Mardin, in Southeastern Turkey. The police accused them of taking pictures on behalf of a group with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the aim of planning terrorist activities. According to their lawyer, Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh were refused access to their families and legal counsel for four days. On January 25, 2017, they were brought before the Prosecutor, who charged them with “membership of a terrorist organization” under Article 314 (2) of the Penal Code, charges that they vehemently deny.
Sajjad Jahan Fard, aged 32, is a writer from Iran and a member of the Kurdish PEN Center. He is the author of several books about Kurdish culture, language, and folklore, including The Myths of the Land of Medes, A life in Silence, and Names-letters of Manisht. He also works as editor of the Kurdish website Jiyar Kurd.
Freedom of expression in Turkey has deteriorated sharply since the failed coup of July 15, 2016. Over 170 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency, a period that has been characterized by the heavy-handed use of extraordinary powers while normal constitutional protections are suspended. As of January 18, 2017, according to PEN records, at least 151 writers and journalists have been arrested and detained without charge or are awaiting trial.
There has also been a massive crackdown on Turkey’s Kurdish population, with arrests of Kurdish journalists and closures of pro-Kurdish media outlets, the forced replacement of elected local officials, and arrests of MPs from the pro-Kurdish HDP party. Thousands of Kurdish teachers, journalists, and academics have also been suspended from their jobs as part of a nation-wide purge.
While recognizing the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes during the attempted coup to justice, PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression and human rights, respect their obligations under international law during the declared state of emergency, and release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. The organization further calls for an end to the crackdown in the Kurdish regions and for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.
In January 2017, a delegation of PEN writers visited Turkey to assess the situation of freedom of expression and express solidarity with fellow writers protesting the heavy-handed clampdown in the country.