Open letter to President Erdoğan

7 September 2015

Dear President Erdoğan

As writers, journalists and members of PEN, we are writing to express our extreme concern about the current crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey.

Last week, VICE News’s team was detained in Turkey while reporting in the south-east. Three members of the team were charged with ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ on 31 August.British journalist Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury were released after six days in detention but we remain seriously concerned about their fixer, Mohammed Ismael Rasool , who remains in detention.

On 1 September, Turkish police raided the offices of Koza İpek Media group.

We recognise that Turkey is facing a period of heightened tension. However at such a time it is more important than ever that both domestic and international journalists are allowed to do their vital work without intimidation, reporting on matters of global interest and concern.

A member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is a state party to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is therefore obliged to respect the right to freedom of expression and ensure that journalists are free to gather information without hindrance or threat.

Turkey’s routine use of counter-terrorism legislation against the media is a longstanding cause of concern for PEN. We urge you to allow the media in Turkey to report fully and freely on events and to release all  journalists held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.


Dr. Syeda Aireen Jaman Secretary General, PEN Bangladesh
Monica Ali
Gabrielle Alioth, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Hanan Al-Shaykh
Apoorvanand, PEN Delhi
Cinta Arasa, PEN Català
Carme Arenas, President, PEN Català
Jiro Asada, President, PEN Japan
Frankie Asare-Donkoh, Ghanaian PEN Centre
Hanan Awwad, President, PEN Palestine
Jutta Birmele, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee
William Boyd
Breyten Breytenbach, PEN Afrikaans
Teresa Cadete, Portuguese PEN
Drew Campbell, President, Scottish PEN
Magda Carneci, President, PEN Romania
Daniel Cil Brecher, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Jennifer Clement, President, PEN Mexico
Robert Cottrell
Antonio Della Rocca, President, PEN Trieste
Smagul Elybai, Kazakh PEN
Bigeldy Gabdullin, President, Kazakh PEN
Moris Farhi MBE
Maureen Freely, President, English PEN
Rita Gracián, PEN Guadalajara
Sebastiano Grasso, President, Italian Pen Club
Gloria Guardia, Vice President, PEN International
Solomon Hailemariam, President, PEN Ethiopia
Dr Zaradachet Hajo, Kurdish PEN
Josef Haslinger, German PEN
Anders Heger, Norwegian PEN
Jozef Heriban, President, Slovak PEN Centre
Eva Hoffman
Deborah Horn-Botha, PEN South Africa
Nedžad Ibrahimović, President, PEN Bosnia
Philo Ikonya, PEN Kenya/ PEN Club Austria
Tade Ipadeola, President, Nigerian PEN
Sirpa Kähkönen, President, Finnish PEN
Kätlin Kaldmaa, President, PEN Estonia
Lucina Kathmann, Vice President, PEN International
Nicholas Kawinga, President, Zambian PEN
Freya Klier, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Hanif Kureishi
Ola Larsmo, President, Swedish PEN
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Leena Lehtolainen, Finnish PEN
Chiara Macconi, PEN Esperanto
Frank Mackay Anim-Appiah, President, Ghanaian PEN
Mohamed Magani
Rishi Majumder, PEN Delhi
Danie Marais, PEN Afrikaans
Yann Martel
Blake Morrison
Hege Newth Nouri, Secretary General, Norwegian PEN
Katharine Norbury
Mohammad Nurul Huda, PEN Bangladesh
William Nygaard, President, Norwegian PEN
Hans-Christian Oeser, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Vida Ognjenovic, President, Serbian PEN Centre
Per Øhrgaard, President, Danish PEN
Sofi Oksanen, Finnish PEN
Margie Orford, President, PEN South Africa
Erol Özkoray, writer and publicist
Nasser Pejman, International Secretary, Iranian PEN in Exile
Tone Peršak, President, Writers for Peace Committee
Professor Imran Rahman, PEN Bangladesh
Baharam Rahmani, President, Iranian PEN in Exile.
John Ralston Saul, President, PEN International
Andrea Reiter, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Mille Rode, Secretary General, Danish PEN
Raffaella Salierno, PEN Catalan
Şêxmûs Sefer, President, Kurdish PEN
Eugene Schoulgin, Vice President, PEN International
Elif Shafak
Owen Sheers, Wales PEN Cymru
Mohamed Sheriff, President, Sierra Leone PEN
Iida Simes, Finnish PEN
Sjón, President, Icelandic PEN
Ali Smith
Guy Stern, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Tasleem Thawar, Executive Director, PEN Canada
Pragya Tiwari, PEN Delhi
Jarkko Tontti, Treasurer, PEN International
Carles Torner, Executive Director, PEN International
Luisa Valenzuela, PEN Argentina
Tung Van Vu, Vietnamese Abroad PEN Centre
Fred Viebahn, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
Sarah Waters
Abraham Zere, PEN Eritrea, Executive Director

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