November 12, 2020
Mr. Abdulhamit Gül
Minister of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Dear Minister Gül:
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 to express our concern for Cihan Erdal, a scholar of youth-led social movements, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at Carleton University in Canada. He has been detained since September 25 and incorrect “terrorism” charges for his prior membership in the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The charges, which have been concealed, apparently stem from political activity in which Cihan Erdal was engaged six years ago when he was a member of the executive committee of the HDP. In October 2014, there were intense demonstrations during a siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in which 33 HDP members protesting the assault of Syrian Kurds were killed.
Now, HDP executive committee members are being accused of inciting that violence, particularly via social media. Cihan Erdal, now in his early 30s, left the HDP five years ago and moved to Canada (three years ago) where he is a permanent resident. His arrest appears to be part of an ongoing, politically motivated sweep of HDP leaders and members. He was held in solitary confinement for three days and now awaits trial in Sincan Maximum Security Prison.
We write to urge you to drop the charges against Cihan Erdal, who is being prosecuted for his membership in a political party that he quit five years ago. The rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association are protected under Turkish and international law.
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. This requires your government to defend the rights to freedom of expression and association, rights which are also guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution.
We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and 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
Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1-202-612-6700 OR 202-612-6701
Fax: 1-202-612 -6744
The Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons office
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-995-4895Fax: 613-996-6883