Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, professor and head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Istanbul University was arrested on June 20 and charged with “terror propaganda” along with two other prominent writers, Erol Onderoglu and Ahmet Nesin.
The arrests seem to have been triggered in response to their participating as “on-duty editor-in-chief” of the newspaper Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish daily.
June 23, 2016
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 417 71 13
Dear Minister Bozdağ,
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write on behalf of our colleague Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Istanbul University, whom Turkish authorities arrested on June 20, on the orders of Istanbul’s Second Criminal Court of Peace. Professor Fincancı, who is President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, has been charged with “terror propaganda” along with two other prominent writers, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin, who were also arrested on the same day, same charge.
It appears that these arrests were in response to the three participating as “on-duty editor-in-chief” in support of the newspaper Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), a pro-Kurdish daily. Dr. Fincancı is being held at Bakırköy Prison, while Ahmet Nesin and Erol Önderoğlu, who is the representative of Reporters without Borders in Turkey, have been sent to Metris Prison.
The arrest of Dr. Fincancı and her colleagues appears to be part of an intense crackdown on basic human rights in Turkey, specifically the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and has signed the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. These all require your government to defend, not attack, freedom of expression, which is also protected in the Turkish Constitution.
Dr. Fincancı is a leading expert on applying forensic sciences to analyze the effects of torture. She was given the International Medical Peace Award by the International Rehabilitation Council of Torture Victims for her role in establishing the Istanbul Protocol, an international standard for investigating and documenting claims of torture.
Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı is a citizen and scholar of whom all Turkey can and should be proud, and her detention is profoundly unjust. We urge you to fulfill your government’s obligation to respect free expression and a free press by releasing Dr. Fincancı, Ahmet Nesin, and Erol Önderoğlu immediately and unconditionally, with all charges dropped.
Thank you for addressing our concerns. We look forward to receiving your response.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Mr. Efkan Ala
Minister of Interior
Fax: +90 312 418 1795
Dr. Hikmet Tülen
Prime Ministry Human Rights Board
İnsan Hakları Başkanı
Yüksel Caddesi No:23, Kat 3 Yenişehir
06650 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 (312) 422 29 96
Ambassador Serdar Kılıç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 612 6700/1
Fax: 1 202 612 6744