On January 8, PEN International issued a “call to action” on behalf of Muharrem Erbrey, a writer, lawyer, and human rights activist in Diyarbakir. Erbrey has been in prison now for over 4 years, charged with violating Turkey’s notorious anti-terror Article 314 (membership of an armed organization). According to PEN, the indictment against Erbrey
Accuses him of attempting to humiliate the Turkish state in speeches given in the Swedish, Belgian and UK Parliaments; of financing KCK with money from a grant obtained in İHD’s name from an EU Member State; of being involved in the drafting of a constitution by the PKK-linked Democratic Community Congress (KCD); of being Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir’s lawyer, and meeting with him frequently; of following a number of anti-terror trials voluntarily; of making statements to Kurdish-language satellite channel Roj TV (alleged to be the ‘PKK’s mouthpiece); of participating in various demonstrations via his press releases; of attempting to humiliate Turkish security forces; of providing KCK with morale and motivation; and of taking part in various activities in order to incite public disorder.
In other words, Muharrem Erbey is charged with carrying out his duties as a lawyer, as well as expressing his opinions and acting as a human rights advocate. As the Executive Director of the International Senior Lawyers Project, a global organization that provides lawyers to promote human rights, has stated,
“We are concerned that Mr. Erbey is being persecuted for his work as a human rights lawyer and advocate. . . . The charges against him are inconsistent with basic principles of international law, including international standards governing fair trials, freedom of expression and association, and the role of lawyers in preserving and vindicating human rights.”
Muharrem Erbey’s next hearing is January 13. We can only hope that this time the court will at last follow the basic principles of international law.
If you would like to take action on Mr Erbey’s behalf, go to PEN International’s website.