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Turkey: Writer and linguist Necmiye Alpay held on terror charges

Friday 9 September 2016 - 1:00am


RAN 19/16

9 September 2016 - PEN International is deeply concerned by the arrest of renowned writer and linguist Necmiye Alpay on 31 August on terror charges as a part of an ongoing investigation into closed daily Özgür Gündem, which has also seen writer Aslı Erdoğan detained.

 On 31 August, Istanbul’s Eighth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the arrest of Alpay on charges of being a member of a terror organization and disrupting the unity of the state; she denies all charges against her. PEN believes that Alpay is being held solely for her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.  

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Send a message of support:

Please consider sending letters or postcards in a show of support and solidarity addressed to Necmiye Alpay, who is being held in Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison:

Zuhuratbaba, 34147, Bakırköy Kadın Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu,
C-9, Necmiye Alpay

Send Appeals to the Turkish authorities:

  • Urging them to immediately release Necmiye Alpay who PEN believes is held solely in connection with her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for all detained writers and journalists to have access to lawyers and to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
  • Calling on them not to use the state of emergency to crack down on peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education;

Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi
06560 Beştepe-Ankara
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31

Twitter: @RT_Erdogan

Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country.  A list of embassies can be found here.

Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.

Send messages of support: 

Send messages and postcards of solidarity and support to Necmiye Alpay. We also encourage you to take photo of the postcard and share on social media with hashtage: #yazarimadokunma (don't touch my author).

Please send cards and letters to:

Ms. Necmiye Alpay
Bakirkoy Kadin Kapali Tutukevi
C-9 Kogusu
Bakirkoy - Istanbul - Turkey


PEN members are encouraged to publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Necmiye Alpay and the situation of freedom of expression in Turkey. Please also consider adopting her as an honorary member of your Centre.


Necmiye Alpay, born in 1946, is a linguist and writer. A graduate of political science from Ankara University Faculty, she completed a doctorate in economics at Paris-Nanterre University. She became a lecturer at Ankara University Faculty for Political Science and spent three years in prison in the 1980s. After her release, she started working as a translator. She has not only written columns and articles in many newspapers and journals such as Radikal daily and translated works of authors like Paul Ricoeur, I. Wallerstein into Turkish but has also published books on the usage of language, literary criticism, and the peace process in Turkey.

Necmiye Alpay was detained on 31 August 2016 on charges of being a ‘member of a terror organization’ and ‘disrupting the unity of the state’. Alpay, who is 70 years old, is member of the Editorial Consultancy Board of the now-closed daily Özgür Gündem, which was which was shut down by decree as part of the state of emergency in the country following the failed coup of 15 July 2016. During the raid on its offices more than 20 journalists and employees of the paper were detained.

On 31 August 2016, Alpay appeared at an Istanbul court to give a statement as part of the ongoing investigation into Özgür Gündem, where she was arrested and later charged. Istanbul’s Eighth Criminal Court of Penal Peace stated that she was being detained because she presented a high risk of flight from the country. In response, Alpay stated: ‘I want to say that the judge might be considering my efforts for peace a crime, but that is against all reason, too.’

Alpay is currently being held in the same ward as writer and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan. Below is the transcript of a letter she sent to PEN today:

September 9th, 2916

Years ago, when some writer friends of mine proposed to add my name to a symbolic Advisory Committee which would figure at a corner of the newspaper Özgür Gündem, I accepted in order to support the freedom of expression of this newspaper, which really needed it, having long been a target of prosecutions, prohibitions and even a bombed attack. At that moment, no probability of being arrested for giving my name did not cross my mind at all.

Years passed, and first a prominent writer, Asli Erdogan and then me, on 1st September, have been arrested and jailed, accused of being member of a terrorist organisation. Our names on the last page of Özgür Gündem were the only evidence for this. No provision of any law exists on this. The prosecution says that this newspaper is an organ of PKK, and us, six persons listed as Advisory Committee must be part of that. This is the logic! In fact, we did not even see each other with some of these sic persons, and the Committee never had a meeting, this was not the purpose. I explained all these to the prosecutor as did Aslı Erdoğan, who is a first rang writer, rather witnessing in her writings the violations of human rights. She is published in 24 languages. Myself, remember (only!) of The Peace Foundation, my endeavour has always been to help a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

What I know is that the actual way of prosecution everyone is not the way to restore a peaceful country, neither that of combatting terrorism. I call all those who are responsible, and the government, to put an end to the politics of violence and repression, free writers and peace activists, recognise the right of criticism, begin to talk and negotiate with the representatives of Kurdish movements who declare themselves ready for that, jailing peace activists and writers is not new in our country. Interestingly enough, now there are more women writers and peace activists in prison than ever. And, this time, considering the problems of the region, we risk to find us in a civil war, and our country fallen apart. Only peaceful politics can serve avoid this.

Thank you for all your interest.

Journalism is not a crime.

Necmiye Alpay.

While recognizing the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes during the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 to justice, PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect their obligations under international law during the state of emergency declared after the coup attempt and to release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, including Necmiye Alpay.