The Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers wrote to the Turkish Ambassador in London yesterday expressing concern over the continued imprisonment of lawyer and human rights campaigner Muharrem Erbey.

The letter was written in response to PEN International’s call to action for Erbey, whose trial is set to continue with a hearing on the 13 January. Find out more about the campaign here.



His Excellency Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz

Turkish Embassy

43 Belgrave Square

London SW1X 8PA

By email:

12 January 2014


Your Excellency,

We are concerned about the trial of human rights lawyer, writer and PEN Turkey member Muharrem Erbey who was arrested in Diyarbakýr, south-eastern Turkey, in December 2009. He is one of scores of Kurdish lawyers, politicians, writers, journalists, publishers, trade unionists and academics detained. December 2013 marked the fourth year of his incarceration as the trial against him and some 80 others continues to be heard. The next hearing of his trial is scheduled to start tomorrow, 13 January 2014.

We believe the charges and his detention to be part of a general campaign against pro-Kurdish intellectuals, political activists and civil society organisations in Turkey. We are also concerned at the four year period of detention and the shocking length of time it has taken for this case to come to trial.

Muharrem Erbey has worked for many years as a highly respected human rights lawyer and advocate in the southeast of Turkey, compiling reports on disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings in the region, and representing local individuals in provincial, national and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights. In 2008, Erbey became Vice President of the Human Rights Association (ÝHD), one of Turkey’s most reputable human rights NGOs, having served as President of the Diyarbakýr branch for many years.

In addition to his work as a human rights lawyer and advocate, Erbey is also a published writer, editor and columnist, and has written numerous articles on culture and human rights for a wide range of magazines, newspapers and websites. In 2007, Erbey co-edited a collection of Turkish and Kurdish language stories by 35 authors, which was distributed to local people for free by the Diyarbakir prison, in accordance with his right to freedom of expression and association, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely

Liz Davies

Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers