Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Dear Foreign Secretary
Ref. Release political prisoners in Turkey
We are deeply concerned about the situation for political prisoners in Turkey. It is of great importance that we don’t allow the accelerating spread of corona virus across the world to provide cover for further violations against those who are in prison, particularly those who are there simply for the expression of peaceful opinions.
We are aware of reports that the Turkish government is engaged in the preparation of a law that will result in the release up to 100,000 prisoners. While this appears to be a progressive step there remains a real danger that political prisoners will not be included in the proposed amnesty. This would be an appalling state of affairs. The spread of corona virus in prisons will result in a deadly outcome for many, especially for older prisoners and those with underlying health conditions. The risks for these prisoners, who have committed no internationally recognised crimes, will be exacerbated by the overcrowding and insanitary conditions in which they are held. We are concerned that the continuing incarceration in these conditions amounts to a potential death sentence.
The draft amnesty law, in its present form, will also not apply to those held in pre-trial detention or whose conviction is under appeal. As you will be aware from countless human rights reports, pre-trial detention is routinely used in Turkish prisons as a form of administrative punishment and in many cases continues for a period of years, seriously violating principles of presumption of innocence and of release pending trial. This category of detainees should also be included in any release plans.
As a pro-Kurdish campaign group, we are particularly concerned for the health and wellbeing of Selahattin Demirtas who has reported a heart condition. We are also concerned for the wellbeing of Abdullah Ocalan, the popular leader of the Kurds in Turkey, who is over 70 years old. They, along with all other political prisoners, should not be in prison at all, but the situation now demands immediate attention in light of the threat posed by corona virus.
We call on you to raise these issues as a matter of urgency with your counter parts in Turkey and in other parts of the world where political prisoners are now at particular risk.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
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