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Turkey: Conviction of Kurdish PEN member must be overturned

Turkey: Conviction of Kurdish PEN member must be overturned

20 April 2021

Kurdish PEN member and writer Gulgeş Deryaspî was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ in December 2020. A verdict on her appeal is expected by the end of April. PEN International believes that Gulgeş Deryaspî is being targeted for her writings promoting Kurdish language and culture and calls for her conviction to be overturned.

TAKE ACTION: Please send appeals to the Turkish authorities:

Calling for the conviction of Gulgeş Deryaspî to be overturned;

Calling for an end to the prosecution and detention of journalists and writers simply on the basis of the content of their writing or alleged affiliation, and for all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of expression to be immediately released;

Calling for an end to the crackdown on the Kurdish regions and for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

Send appeals to: Down arrow

Abdulhamit Gül

Role: Minister of Justice

Address: Ministry of Justice, Adalet Bakanlığı, 06659 Ankara, Turkey



Send copies to the Embassy of Turkey in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: .

Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Turkey, calling on them to raise Gulgeş Deryaspî’s case in bilateral fora.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 30 April 2021. ***

Please inform PEN of any action you take and of any responses you receive.

Publicity Down arrow

PEN members are encouraged to:

· Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Gulgeş Deryaspî and freedom of expression in Turkey;

· Share information about Gulgeş Deryaspî and your campaigning activities via social media.

Please keep us informed of your activities.

Background Down arrow

Born in 1978, Gulgeç Akdeniz (pen name Gulgeş Deryaspî), studied Kurdish Language and Culture at Muş University, eastern Turkey. She published three novels in Kurdish. Tariya Bi Tav (Darkness with Sunshine), published in 2010, portrays life in Kurdish villages and explores the concept of alienation. Xezal (Gazelle), published in 2013, depicts the struggle of a woman standing against patriarchy and state oppression, while Ez Ne Ezim (I am not who I am), published in 2018, explores existential and philosophical questions. She has been a member of Kurdish PEN since 2013.

Gulgeş Deryaspî was taken into custody  on 25 July 2019 following simultaneous raids across Bitlis province, eastern Turkey, during which eight other individuals were also detained. She was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ under Article 314/2 of Turkey’s Penal Code on 29 July 2019 and sent to Bitlis E Type Closed Prison. She denies any wrongdoing. The first hearing was held on 4 February 2020; she was released from pre-trial detention on 30 March 2020 in an effort by the Turkish authorities to stem breakouts of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails. Deryaspî was sentenced to six years and three months in prison on 3 December 2020. Her lawyers officially lodged an appeal on 28 February 2021. Under Turkish law, a verdict must be pronounced within two months.

The situation for freedom of expression in Turkey remains dire. Kurdish culture and language are harshly repressed.. Most pro-Kurdish and Kurdish language media outlets have been closed down, and dozens of journalists of Kurdish or pro-Kurdish outlets are in prison trumped-up terrorism charges, including news editor, reporter and poet Nedim Türfent. Writer and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş remains behind bars, despite the European Court of Human Rights twice ruling for his immediate release. The Turkish authorities continue to forcibly replace elected HDP local officials in the southeast, thus depriving voters of their elected representatives in parliament and local government.

For more information about the state of freedom of expression in Turkey, please click here.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: