Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, Professor and head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Istanbul University, along with two prominent journalists, Erol Onderoglu and Ahmet Nesin, will go to trial on November 8. They have been charged with “terror propaganda.” These charges preceded the attempted coup in Turkey and these individuals had nothing to do with that event. CCS has advocated for these individuals in a letter to the Minister of Justice sent on June 23rd.
CCS is now requesting that the US Ambassador have a representative of the Embassy present at this court date to assure a fair and just trial and to assure due process.
October 27, 2016
Ambassador John Bass
U.S. Embassy Ankara
110 Atatürk Blvd.
Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara – Turkey
Phone: (90-312) 455-5555
Fax: (90-312) 467-0019
Dear Ambassador Bass:
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 prominent writers, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin, who were also arrested on the same day and the same charge. (These charges preceded the coup attempt and these individuals’ charges are unrelated to the coup situation.)
Dr. Şebnem Korur 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. Fincancı is a citizen and scholar of whom all Turkey should be proud.
We wrote to the Government of Turkey on June 23 to express our concerns that fundamental human rights are being violated in this case. Now, we have learned that they face a November 8 court date, and we write to urge you to send a U.S. government representative to attend and monitor this hearing. Given the current deteriorating human rights climate in Turkey, and given the dubious nature of the charges in this case, independent observation of the proceedings is imperative to ensure some level of justice and fairness.
It appears that the arrests of these three were in response to their participating as “on-duty editor-in-chief” in support of the newspaper Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), a pro-Kurdish daily. These arrests are 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 the Government of Turkey to defend, not attack, freedom of expression, which is also protected in the Turkish Constitution.
Please let us know if you will be able to appoint a U.S. Government representative to monitor this case, in which human rights, academic freedom, and scientific integrity are at stake. Thank you for addressing our concerns. We look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Copies to:Minister of Justice
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Ministry of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 417 71 13
Minister of Interior
Mr. Efkan Ala
Fax: +90 312 418 1795Prime Ministry Human Rights Board
Dr. Hikmet Tülen
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