A Cause Worth Following: Help Pinar Selek
In a request sent to us from Christa Schuenke, the Vice President of P.E.N. Germany, she asked us to publish this letter urging readers to sign a petition. This petition aims to help persecuted writer Pinar Selek. Below is the letter with links to the petition:
The Turkish writer and sociologist Pinar Selek, born in 1971, presently a scholar in the Writers-in-Exile program of German P.E.N., is a passionate advocate for the rights of different kinds of minorities, such as socially disadvantaged children, but she also defends the civil rights of ethnic minorities like Kurds and Armenians. A woman of many trades, she is a writer of non-fictional books about sociological topics as well as children’s books. She is currently working on a novel. In a few days her book (about the influence of Turkish military on family) Sürüne Sürüne Erkek Olmak (“Mollycoddled to be a Man – Drilled to be a Man”) will be published in German translation by Orlanda Verlag, Berlin, under the title “Zum Mann gehätschelt – zum Mann gedrillt”.
In 1998 Pinar Selek was arrested for alleged propaganda for PKK; she spent two and a half years in prison where she was severely tortured. It was only in custody that she realized she was being charged with having committed a bomb attack on the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul on behalf of the PKK. After an eight year trial Pinar was acquitted in 2006. By then, numerous experts had confirmed that the explosion on the Bazaar had not been caused by a bomb but by a faulty liquid gas bottle. The main witness for the prosecution admitted that his testimony was obtained under torture.
At the beginning of last year, the case was referred to Ankara ’s Court of Appeals because of alleged procedural errors. There, the acquittal was quashed, against which decision the senior public prosecutor of that same court appealed, saying that as there was no bomb involved in the explosion, it could not have been planted by somebody. However, the court did not accept the appeal of the senior public prosecutor. On 8 February, 2010 we were alarmed to hear that the notorious 9th criminal division of the Court of Appeals in Ankara is demanding life imprisonment for Pinar Selek.
During the last ten years Pinar Selek has become an icon of the democracy movement in Turkey. It is obvious that antidemocratic forces within the Turkish penal jurisdiction are trying to use their influence in order to gag a courageous writer. Only a few days ago, Pinar Selek was honored with the Duygu Asena Award 2009 of the Turkish PEN-center. Unfortunately, she could not be there to take part in the awards ceremony.
It seems that the judgment will be pronounced soon. This is why Pinar Selek needs public support not only in her own country but all over the world. During the trial public figures like Orhan Pamuk, Yasar Kemal, Hrant Dink, Noam Chomsky and Claudia Roth have promoted her case. There are reports about the new situation in all progressive Turkish media. On Pinar Selek’s website there is a petition against the reopening of the trial. This petition was signed by numerous Turkish and international associations and organizations, and there is another list with the names of many public figures.
The German P.E.N. has been asking its members as well as other personalities of public life and people from all strata of the society in Germany and abroad to support Pinar Selek by signing its solidarity campaign. So far many famous writers such as Herta Müller, Christa Wolf and Günter Grass, and many German artists and politicians from Germany and many other countries have signed the petition. Renowned people like the North American feminist Judith Butler, the Chinese writer Dai Qing and many others followed the appeal. We are especially happy that so many people from Turkey, among them quite a number of very important people from adminsitration, education and culture, have shown their solidarity with Pinar Selek.
In mid-April Germaan Nobel Prize winning author Günter Grass at a reception in Istanbul handed over our petiton to the Turkish Minister for Culture and Tourism who expressed his deep regret for this new aggravation of the case by the Turkish judiciary and uttered his urgent desire that Pinar Selek might be acquitted one more time from all charges (as she already had been acquitted in 2006). The German P.E.N. is protesting against the impending arbitrary act of the Turkish jurisdiction. Please support Pinar Selek with your name by signing our appeal. All you have to do is send an email of confirmation to Christa Scuenke here. You can also sign the petition here.
Thank you and kindest regards,