As of 13 April 2020, Turkey had recorded 61,049 cases of Covid-19 and 1,296 deaths from it. Since the first case was diagnosed on 10 March the toll is rising quickly. Turkey’s prisons are dangerous; the Minister of Justice said that 17 inmates of five prisons had been infected with the coronavirus and that three have died. Prisoners report lack of personal cleaning materials, intermittent flows of hot and cold water, no disinfectant, insufficient gloves and masks and staff without protective wear. Prisoners are reported to be having to pay for masks. There are approaching 300,000 prisoners in Turkey and approximately one-fifth of these are political prisoners, many of them charged with terrorism-related offences since the failed coup attempt of 2016.

On 11 April Turkey’s parliament passed clauses of a bill that, if passed into law, would allow the release of 90,000 prisoners onto parole or house arrest. However, the thousands of political prisoners would be excluded from release. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rapporteurs responded saying ‘We are appalled to learn that these amendments could exclude politicians, journalists, academics, dismissed civil servants, civil society activists and many others detained on “terror related charges” for exercising their right to freedom of expression or assembly.’

When President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002 there were some 60,000 prisoners in Turkey. That number has quintupled. The Peoples Democratic Party is Turkey’s third largest political party. Seven of its elected MPs are imprisoned, including the party’s former co-presidents Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag. Dozens of elected mayors and over 6,000 HDP members and activists are in jail. Over 110 journalists are imprisoned; 49 were imprisoned last year alone. More than 150,000 public servants have been jailed since the 2016 failed coup attempt.

Turkey’s prisons are overcrowded and dangerous. We demand that all those in Turkey who are incarcerated for their political beliefs, for exercising freedom of expression, the right to assembly and to represent their electorates are released.


15 April 2020


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

Fax: 020 7263 0596

Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Trevor Rayne, writer, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, Jonathan Steele, Steve Sweeney, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Hywel Williams MP.