The KNK has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ calling for the release of hundreds of critically ill prisoners who are languishing in Turkish jails without proper medical attention. As the letter explains, despite recent changes to the law that would allow for seriously ill prisoners to be released, any prisoner charged under the anti-terror law who is suffering health problems has no chance of release under the current rules.

We know of at least 544 prisoners in Turkey are seriously ill who deserve to be released. We also know that 2300 people have died in Turkish prisons in the last 13 years.

The appeal has been signed by over 12o prominent public figures from across the world, including Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chair of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP); writer and former political prisoner Ragip Zarakolu; Professor Noam Chomsky; several Members of the British, Irish and European Parliaments; and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to name a few. The appeal was also published in Turkish daily Radikal.

Dear Prime Minister R.T. Erdoğan, Dear Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ


At present there are 544 prisoners critically ill in Turkish prisons according to reports of the Human Rights Association İnsan Hakları Derneği (IHD) and Türkiye Insan Haklari Vakfi (TIHV). 163 of them are in life-threating conditions. The Minister of Justice recently stated that 2300 prisoners had died in the last 13 years.

The situation in Turkish prisons is in general extremely inhuman.

After a recent amendment of the custody law passed in January 2013 chances for ill prisoners to be released have decreased even more. Political prisoners suffering from health problems have in fact no chance to be released, because they are charged under the controversial “Anti Terror Legislation”.

According to this legislation political prisoners can be termed a threat to public security, which prevents their release. In addition the law established in January 2013 indicates that forensic institutes make the decision whether the prisoners are released. But the forensic institutes are well known for being politically biased.

The Turkish Human Rights Association, Bar Associations and the Medical Association (TBB) have denounced this practice. Opposition politicians have made proposals for improvement of legal regulations in parliament, but they have not been approved until now.

The imprisonment and abuses of critically ill persons violate the “Right to life” and the “Prohibition of Torture” regulations of the “European Convention of Human Rights”. The inhuman conditions in Turkish prisons must be improved. Human rights abuses are not tolerable. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Turkey in many cases.

Dear Prime Minister R.T. Erdoğan, dear Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ, as a first step we ask you to take all possible measures to ensure the release of all critically ill prisoners in Turkey.




Prof. Dr. Murat Belge, Academic and Publisher.

Akın Birdal, Honorary President of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD).

Hasan Cemal, Journalist and Author.

Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chair of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Member of the Parliament in Turkey.

Hatip Dicle, Imprisoned Politician.

Aynur Doğan, Singer.

Aslı Erdoğan, Author.

Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı, Academic.

Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Chair of Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TIHV).

Prof. Dr. Gencay Gürsoy, Neurologist and Human Rights Activist, former Chair of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

Eren Keskin, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist.

Sema Kaygusuz, Author.

Osman Kavala, Founder and Director.

Murathan Mungan, Poet and Author.

Sırrı Süreya Önder, Member of the Parliament in Turkey and Film Director.

Ahmet Şık, Journalist.

Sebahat Tuncel, Co-chair of People’s Democracy Party (HDP).

Vedat Türkali, Author.

Ahmet Türk, Co-chair of Democratic Society Congress (DTK).

Öztürk Türkdoğan, Chair of Human Rights Association.

Yıldırım Türker, Author and Poet.

Ragıp Zarakolu, Author and Publisher.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Vice-Leader of People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Member of the Parliament in Turkey.

Pınar Aydinlar, Singer and Activist.


South Africa

Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Archbishop, South Africa.

Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks, President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), South Africa.

Essa Moosa, Judge, South Africa.

National Muslim Prison Board, South Africa.



Prof. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor MIT, Philosopher, USA.

Prof. Immanuel Wallerstein, Sociologist and Analyst, Yale University, USA.

Janet Biehl, Writer and communalist, USA.



Maude Barlow, Author, Former UN Advisor on Water, Canada.

Avi Haligua, Journalist, Vancouver, Canada.


Latin America

Oscar Olivera, Laureate of the Goldman Environmental Prize Goldman and the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, Bolivia.

Ricardo Gustavo Espeja, Journalist and Historian, Argentinia.

Luis Rosadilla, Senator, Uruguay.

Beate Taufer, Psychologist, Uruguay.

Dr. Sara Perona, Philosopher, Uruguay.

Daniel Heugas, Engineer, Uruguay.


European Parliament

Dr. Renate Sommer, Member of the European Parliament, European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), DE.

Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, Green Party, UK.

Ska Keller, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, DE.

Member of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, DE.

Gabi Zimmer, President of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left. DE.

Jürgen Klute, Member of the European Parliament,European United Left/Nordic Green Left, DE.





Ernesto Laclau, Political theorist, Buenos Aires/London, UK.

Prof. Bill Bowring, President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH), International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK.

Prof. Mary Davis, Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

Bruce Kent, Vice-President, Pax Christi, UK.

Prof. Dr. Latif Waid, Economist, London, UK.

Prof. Dr. Cynthia Cockburn, Feminist researcher and writer, UK.

Dr. Radha D’Souza, Academic, writer and human rights campaigner, UK.

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK.

Dr. Les Levidov, Senior Research Fellow, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Dr. Shahrar Ali, London Green Party European Election candidate, UK.

Elfyn Llwyd, MP, House of Commons, UK.

Hywel Williams, MP, House of Commons, UK.

Maggie Bowden, General Secretary of the Human Rights Organization “Liberation”, UK.

Frances Webber, Human rights lawyer, UK.

Margaret Owen OBE, Barrister and Director of Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), UK.

Gareth Peirce, Human rights lawyer, UK.

Louise Christian, Human rights lawyer, UK.

Jonathan Fryer, Writer and broadcaster, UK.

Caroline Allen, London Green Party European Election candidate, UK.

Nick Hildyard, Policy Analyst, UK.



Conor Murphy, MP, on behalf of the 5 Sinn Féin Members of Parliament (UK),Northern Ireland.

Pat Sheehan, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), on behalf of the 29 Sinn Féin MLA’s at the Northern Ireland Assembly, Northern Ireland.

Seán Crowe, Teachta Dála, on behalf of the 14 Sinn Féin TD’s at Leinster House (Parliament) of Ireland.



Prof. Dr. Andreas Buro, Political Scientist, Coordinator of the NGO Dialog-Kreis, Grävenwiesbach, Germany.

Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Gottstein, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Frankfurt, Germany.

Cem Özdemir, Member of Federal Parliament, Chairman of the Alliance 90/ The Greens, Berlin, Germany.

Claudia Roth, Vice President of the Federal Parliament, Berlin,Germany.

Kai Gehring, Member of Federal Parliament, Alliance 90/ The Greens, Berlin, Germany.

Manuel Sarrazin, Member of Federal Parliament, Alliance 90/ The Greens, Germany.

Uwe Kekeritz, Member of Federal Parliament, Alliance 90/ The Greens, Germany.

Annette Groth, Member of Federal Parliament, Left Party, Berlin, Germany.

Ulla Jelpke, Member of Federal Parliament, Left Party, Berlin, Germany.

Karin Binder, Member of Federal Parliament, Left Party, Berlin, Germany.

Martina Renner, Member of Federal Parliament, Left Party, Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Gebauer, Executive Director of medico international, Frankfurt, Germany.

Dr. Gisela Penteker, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Hemmoor, Germany.

Dr. Christiane Lang, Chair professional association Philosophy of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Dr. Rolf Hosfeld, Writer and Historian, Schwielowsee, Germany.

Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Schneider, Lawyer and Author, Hamburg, Germany.

Prof. Armin Rieser, Bonn, Germany.

Dogan Akhanli, Writer, Cologne, Germany.

Albrecht Kieser, Journalist, Cologne, Germany.

Ali Zülfikar, Artist, Cologne, Germany.

Gerd Schumann, Author, Berlin, Germany.

Memo Sahin, Writer, Dialog-Kreis, Cologne, Germany.

Pater Wolfgang Jungheim, Pax Christi, Dialogkreis, Lahnstein, Germany.

Atilla Keskin, Writer, Cologne, Germany.

Yüksel Yavuz, Film director, Berlin, Germany.

Susanne Hennig, Chairwoman of the Left Party in Thuringia, Germany.

Matthias Bärwolff, Member of Parliament Thuringia, Left Party, Germany.

Barbara Cárdenas,Member of State Parliament Hessen, Left Party, Germany.

Christiane Schneider, Member of State Parliament Hessen, Left Party, Germany.

Cansu Özdemir, Member of State Parliament Hessen, Left Party, Germany.



Eugene Schoulgin, Writer, Vice-President of PEN International, Oslo, Norway.

Erling Folkvord, Former Parliamentarian Party Red and writer, Norway.

Efraim Bulut, Cardiologist, Norway.

Arne L. Lynngaard, Managing Director and former chair of Rafto Foundation, Norway.

Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Chairperson EUTCC & University of Bergen, Norway.



Valter Mutt, Member of Parliament, Green Party, Sweden.

Hans Linde, Member of Parliament, Left Party, Foreign Policy Spokesperson, Sweden.

Bodil Ceballos, Member of Parliament, Green Party, Foreign Policy Spokesperson, Sweden.

Maria Hagberg, Author and peace and women´s activist, Sweden.

Ann-Margarethe Livh, Commissioner in Opposition in the municipality of Stockholm, Sweden.

Ann-Carin Landström, Person responsible for international affairs, Left party, Sweden.

Mustafa Can, Journalist and Author, Sweden.

Kemal Görgu, Chairman of the Swedish Peace Council, Sweden.

Sven Wollter, Actor, Sweden.

Olof Buckard, Satirist, Actor and Chairman of Artists for Peace, Sweden.



Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Researcher and Author, Finland/Denmark.



Erik Arnsted, Musician and Member of UNA, Denmark.



Carlo Sommaruga, Member of the National Council (Social Democratic Party), President of the Foreign Policy Commission, Lawyer, Switzerland.

Yvonne Gilli, Member of the National Council (Green Party), Switzerland.

Liliane Maury Pasquier, Member of the Swiss Council of States for Geneva, Chair of the Commission for Social Security and Health, Switzerland.

Maya Heuschmann, Coordinator of the Turkey-Section of Amnesty International, Switzerland.

Óscar Menéndez, Science journalist, Spain.

Manuel Martorell, Journalist and historian, Spain.

Ainara Mendiola, Journalist and translator, Euskal Herria, Basque Country.


G. M. Tamás, Philosopher, former member of the Hungarian Parliament, Hungary.


Jacques Gaillot, Catholic Bishop, France.


Dr. Joost Jongerden, Sociologist, Netherlands.


Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, 2001 Sakharov prize laureate for human rights and the freedom of thought, Israel.


Dr. Ahmet Djavit An, Paediatrician and Historian, Cyprus.