Ayse Duzkan with Fadwa Barghouthi. Photo: BDS Turkey

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity and raises its voice for the immediate cancellation of the sentencing order against Ayşe Düzkan, Palestine solidarity activist, feminist and journalist in Turkey.

Ayşe, an activist for Palestine involved with BDS Turkey since its the earliest days of, has been ordered to report to prison within the next week after she was convicted for serving as an “honorary editor in chief” for Özgür Gündem, a Kurdish newspaper banned by the Turkish state.

The history of Özgür Gündem is one of repression; founded in 1992, 89 employees of the publication were killed on duty. Its buildings have been bombed and its employees and managers repeatedly imprisoned.

Ozkur Gundem, the targeted newspaper. Photo: Sendika.org.

She was convicted with four more journalists, Hüseyin Aykol, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Hüseyin Bektas and Ragip Duran. Aykol was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months while Düzkan, Çelebi, Bektas and Duran were ordered to 1 year and 6 months in prison. While their sentences were issued in January 2018, the Istanbul appeals court approved the sentences on 29 November. They are awaiting the official notification that they must report to prison within 10 days.

Several of the targeted journalists are members of the DISK Press-Work Union, and Ayse Düzkan is a member of the union’s board. The appeals court said that they received these lengthy sentences due to their “behavior in the hearing and lack of remorse” for their journalistic activity.  The union noted that these sentences come “in a period when constitutional rights are disregarded and the Constitutional Court is deemed not to exist…we know that the punishments are given in a political context and not in a legal context.” 

They are far from the only political prisoners in Turkey; the period following the attempted 2016 coup – linked, if anything, to right-wing and military interests – has witnessed massive repression of left and progressive activists and organizations. Dozens of lawyers, including the leadership of CHD, the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (the Turkish affiliate of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers), have been jailed. Across Europe, Turkish and Kurdish activists have been pursued on the basis of complaints from the Turkish government.

Ayse Duzkan speaks at a Palestine solidarity rally. Photo: BDS Turkey.

Ayşe Düzkan is a strong supporter of Palestinian political prisoners and the Palestinian people’s struggle overall as a founding member of BDS Turkey. As an editor and journalist, she has worked to highlight the cases of the dozens of Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the Israeli occupation for their commitment to showing and telling the stories of their people. She has worked to translate Palestinian authors in Turkish and coordinate with human rights organizations to highlight the struggles of Palestinian prisoners while struggling for the freedom of Turkish and Kurdish prisoners. She introduced Samidoun and its work to several organizations working in Turkey to free political prisoners. 

We express our full solidarity with Ayşe Düzkan, all victims of repression and all political prisoners in Turkish jails. We demand their immediate release and the end to the political persecution of activists, workers, teachers, journalists and lawyers .