Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has prepared an open letter (see below), signed by prominent legal professionals, MP’s, writers, and academics, appealing to the Foreign Secretary William Hague to pressure Turkey to release the lawyers detained after raids at the end of November. The letter will be sent to Hague in the next few days.

The list of signatories shows that there is widespread outrage at Turkey’s actions, but we still need to gather more support for all those arrested and threatened by Turkey’s repressive policies. Please circulate this letter as widely as you can!


We wish to express our deep concern about the new wave of mass arrests taking place in Turkey. This time the victims of Turkey’s repression are the country’s lawyers. According to The Economist, 47 lawyers were arrested last week; while other reports put the figure at 51.

While the arrests were taking place the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul was on a state visit in London where his country was extolled as a model democracy to be emulated throughout the Middle East.  And yet, Turkey has arrested lawyers for simply representing their clients.

In the last seven months 4,547 people have been detained and 1,838 remanded in custody, according to the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) Law Commission. The “KCK” operation has been targeting Kurdish politicians and institutions since April 2009, criminalising all Kurdish civil, social, public and cultural organisations by spuriously linking them to a very broadly defined conception of terrorism. The detainees include democratically elected MPs, mayors and city councillors, journalists, trade unionists, writers, academics, teachers and human rights activists.

Now, lawyers acting for the detainees have been charged with terrorism offences, in what amounts to guilt by association. The arrested lawyers also include members of the legal team of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), held in jail for well over a decade.

The lawyers’ offences appear to be discharging their normal professional duties carried out in the course of representing their clients. We are sure that you agree that an independent judicial process is one of the bedrocks of a functioning democracy and in a free society lawyers must be allowed to perform their advocacy role as a matter of right. These basic principles are presently being undermined in Turkey.

We urge you to use your influence with the Turkish Government to ensure the immediate release of all lawyers currently detained and enable them to take up their independent advocacy roles in the interests of securing justice for all the people of Turkey.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Signed by:

Margaret Owen OBE, human rights lawyer; Widows for Peace through Democracy

Musa Moris Farhi MBE

John Berger, writer and art critic

Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers (NUT)

Mike Mansfield QC

Professor Roy Greenslade, City University London

Louise Christian, human rights lawyer

Dr Vicki Sentas, School of Law, King’s College London

Professor Bill Bowring, Barrister, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London

Brice Dickson, Professor of International and Comparative Law at Queen’s University, Belfast

Henry Porter, novelist and political columnist for Observer Newspaper, London

Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Liz David, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Michael Ivers, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Rajiv Menon QC, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Lord Rea

Lord Hylton

Jean Lambert MEP

Jill Evans MEP

Bairbre de Brún MEP

Carolyne Lucas MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Hywel Williams MP

John Austin (former MP)

Mark Durkan MP

Katy Clark MP

Hugo Charlton, barrister, 1 Grays Inn

Alastair Lyon, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Matt Foot, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Russell Frazer, solicitor,  Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Dr Felix Padel, anthropologist and writer

Jonathan Fryer, writer and broadcaster

Tim Gopsill, Editor of Free Press, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom

Stan Newens, former MP and MEP, President of Liberation

Dafydd Iwan B.Arch., LL.D. Past President, Plaid Cymru

Dr Omer Moore, human rights lawyer

Alain Hertzmann, Branch secretary, London North West Branch 9708, Unitetheunion

Maggie Bowden General Secretary, Liberation

Saleh Mamon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Anne Costello, Campaign Against Criminalising Communitites (CAMPACC)

Richard Haley, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Scotland

Father Joe Ryan, Justice and Peace Commission – Dioceses of Westminster

Nick Hildyard, policy adviser

Dr. Gwenllian Lansdown Davies, former Chief Executive of Plaid Cymru

Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Education Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway

Mike Arnott, Rector’s Assessor, University of Dundee

Hannah Rought-Brooks, barrister, Tooks Chambers

Jonathan Bloch, LibDem councillor, Haringey, London


Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question


Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 4131

Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Alyn Smith MEP, Bairbre de Brún MEP,  Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, John Austin, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Mark Thomas