To the Editors:
The undersigned wish to protest the treatment of Ali Taygun, a Turkish prisoner of conscience in Istanbul prisons for over two years. His “crime”? Membership in a peace movement called The Turkish Peace Association which—until the military came to power and declared it subversive—was regularly considered a legitimate organ of political protest. A directing candidate at the Yale School of Drama from 1966–69—while still a student there he directed professionally with the Yale Repertory Theatre—Ali Taygun returned home in the early Seventies to become one of the most important figures of the Turkish stage. His arrest resulted in a trial where he and his companions were found guilty of membership in an illegal organization. Taygun was sentenced to eight years in prison. Although the sentence was overturned last fall, and a new trial ordered, the judge, a military man, ruled that Taygun and several other defendants had to remain in prison indefinitely pending the new trial.
Ali Taygun’s behavior throughout his incarceration has been remarkable, despite provocations, despite the continual anguish he has suffered over the frustrating disappointments of his case. He shows not anger or hatred over his fate but rather a kind of stoicism extraordinary in its patience and forbearance; astonishingly, he continues to reflect on theater and society under the most daunting conditions. He has now been “adopted” by the St. Louis chapter of Amnesty International. Readers who support this protest are urged to write the Turkish government urging for the restoration of Ali Taygun’s human rights. Letters and telegrams should be addressed to Prime Minister Turgat Ozal, Office of the Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, Ankara, Turkey, with copies to Elliot Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, State Department, Washington, D.C. 20520.