To the Editors:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is campaigning to obtain the release from prison of Ocak Isik Yurtçu, the former editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), which was published in Istanbul until it was forced to close down. On December 28, 1994, Mr. Yurtçu was sentenced to fifteen years and ten months in prison. His alleged offense was the publication of articles pertaining to the Turkish government’s ongoing conflict with Kurdish insurgents.
Mr. Yurtçu’s imprisonment represents a clear violation of the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. If the Turkish government is willing to release Mr. Yurtçu, this would be a sign of its acceptance of the internationally recognized rights of journalists to practice their profession freely.
As Mr. Yurtçu’s third year in prison begins, we urge readers to write to the Turkish prime minister asking that Mr. Yurtçu be released. Letters should be sent to:
His Excellency Necmettin Erbakan
Prime Minister of Turkey
c/o His Excellency Ambassador
Embassy of Turkey
1714 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
The following are among those who have signed an appeal to the prime minister on Mr Yurtçu’s behalf.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger
and Elie Wiesel
February 6, 1997