(WiPC/IFEX) - The following is a joint appeal to Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit by eleven IFEX members on behalf of imprisoned Turkish playwright and human rights lawyer Esber Yagmurdereli:
His Excellency Bulent Ecevit
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
We, the undersigned members of IFEX, are writing this appeal on behalf of our colleague, the imprisoned Turkish playwright and human rights lawyer Esber Yagmurdereli.
First arrested in 1978 and sentenced to death (later commuted to a life sentence), he was conditionally released in August 1991. However within a few months he was on a public platform protesting the treatment of Kurdish prisoners and continued abuses by Turkish forces in the region. This led to a series of court hearings which in October 1997 resulted in his return to prison to serve the remainder of his life sentence, plus ten months for the second "offense," calculated at twenty-two years and four months. Mr. Yagmurdereli enjoyed a brief respite from prison in November 1997 when he was temporarily released on health grounds. In June 1998 he was returned to prison, where he now remains.
Esber Yagmurdereli, blind since age ten, has continued his campaign to highlight the plight of Kurds and other human rights violations in Turkey throughout his trial and imprisonment, despite the risk to himself, earning him respect and admiration both within Turkey and abroad. As Mr. Yagmurdereli's imprisonment lengthens, outrage among the world-wide human rights and artistic community grows.
On September 29th, Mr.Yagmurdereli received the Ludovic Trarieux Award, given by France's Bordeaux Bar Association, to mark his contribution as a lawyer dedicated to the promotion of human rights. (Nelson Mandela was the first recipient of the award).
October 29th is Turkish National Day. Should there be an amnesty, we strongly urge the Turkish government to demonstrate its resolve to uphold international standards of human rights and the principles of free expression by releasing Esber Yagmurdereli from prison, immediately and unconditionally.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Free Media Movement
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Human Rights Watch
International Federation of Journalists
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
PEN American Center
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC), International PEN
Eleven IFEX members sign on in support of campaign for imprisoned writer