Jan 19, 2017

Iranian Kurdistan: Two Activist Writers Detained in Turkey

Photo courtesy of Reuters @Kurdistan24

Turkish authorities arrested two Iranian Kurdish activists in the Kurdish city of Mardin, Turkey on unspecified charges. Writer, essayist and translator Sajad Jahanfard and writer and linguist Hasan Balade were reportedly in the country for meetings related to their respective literary and academic activities. They had also requested membership with the Kurdish chapter of PEN International, a worldwide association of writers. Tensions have risen over the past years between the Turkish government and Kurdish inhabitants of the south-eastern part of the country, and 2016 saw the arrest of many pro-Kurdish lawmakers throughout the country.

The article below was published by Kurdistan24:

Turkish authorities arrested two Kurdish activists from Iranian Kurdistan while they were at a cafe in Mardin, PEN Kurdish reported on Monday.

Sajad Jahanfard and Hasan Balade were two Kurds from Iran visiting the Kurdish city of Mardin in Turkey when they were arrested for unspecified charges.

Jahanfard is a writer, essayist, editor, and translator from the province of Kermashan and was reportedly in Turkey to publish his book.

Balade, a writer and linguist, visited Turkey to register at the Mardin Artuklu University, according to PEN Kurdish.

Two weeks ago, both men met PEN Kurdish’s ex-president Seyhmus Sefer and filled out a membership form. Their request for membership is pending as a committee is reviewing their application.

The writers reportedly traveled from Diyarbakir to Mardin about two weeks ago and met other members of the organization.

The men were arrested in a Mardin cafe along with their host who translated for them at the security department.

The translator was released later, only to be detained again.

The detainees do not have family in Turkey, and so no lawyer had been assigned to them.

Kurdish PEN found them a bona fido lawyer, but the organization insisted more should be done.

Additionally, the Kurdish Society to United Nations (KSUN) wrote a letter urging human rights organizations to help the writers jailed in a foreign country.

“Please return Sajad Jahanfard and Hassan Baladeh safely home to their Kurdish region in Iran from the Turkish prison they are currently located in,” the letter read.

“This is your duty as the international body that guarantees human rights across all borders,” the letter continued.

“They [prisoners] deserve access to justice, and the United Nations is the only international governing body to guarantee that human rights are protected and ensured,” KSUN concluded.