Turkey

BACKGROUND FOR: Melike and Ozgur, charged with a crime for organizing a LGBTI+ rally.

From their first day at University, biology students Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür dedicated themselves to defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) people. As prominent members of the LGBTI+ Solidarity Group at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, they have organized numerous marches, meetings and other events. They’ve engaged with an ever-growing number of students, against a backdrop of increasing homophobia and restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey.

The METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group have organized an annual Pride march on campus since 2011. But in 2019, the university’s management told the students the march planned for May 10th could not go ahead. Undeterred, the Solidarity Group staged a Pride sit-in instead. In response, the university called the police who used excessive force, including tear gas, against the peaceful protestors. Police arrested at least 23 students – including Melike and Özgür – and an academic. Some of those detained hadn’t even taken part in the protest. Despite simply exercising their right to peaceful protest, 18 students and the academic are on trial.

If found guilty, they face up to three years in prison.

Tell Turkey they must be acquitted of all charges.


Sample Letters and addresses to use

You may use all or part of the sample letter, insert your own sentences after reading the overview above, or copy and paste the letter into an email message. Handwritten letters can be very powerful, but other methods of communication are also effective.

Sample Letter

Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008                                                                                               Today’s date

Dear Ambassador,

Biology students Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür are among a group of 19 people facing up to three years in prison for exercising their right to peaceful assembly.

On 10 May 2019, a Pride sit-in at Middle East Technical University was violently broken up by police. Melike, Özgür and 21 others were detained. Now Melike, Özgür and 17 others are on trial.

Participating in a peaceful gathering is not a crime. I call on you to monitor the case to ensure they are acquitted of all charges. I will be watching this case closely. Yours sincerely, Your first and last name

(it is most effective to have a return address here, but if you are uncomfortable with that, at least put your city, USA).

This letter in Word format here or see below to download it for copying, editing or printing

Reporting your messages

WRITE TO THE AMBASSADOR OF TURKEY

Remind him that the students and
the academic were exercising their
right to peaceful assembly and should
therefore be acquitted of all charges
against them.


Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC
20008
Email: ambassador@turkishembassy.org
Twitter: @serdarkilic9

(Salutation: Dear Ambassador)

SHARE YOUR PRIDE IN MELIKE AND ÖZGUR

Visit METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group’s
Twitter & Instagram feed @odtulgbti.
Take a photo of yourself with a Pride
flag and share on your social media
channels, tagging @odtulgbti, and
adding a message of support in the
caption.

OR

Written messages of support can be sent to:
Uluslararası Af Örgütü
Hacımimi Mah. Kemeraltı Cad.
Adahan No:31 Kat:2 PK:34425
Karaköy-Beyoğlu/İstanbul
Turkey (postage is $1.20 or a forever international stamp)

(remember not to mention details of the case in letters of support, just positive thoughts and solidarity!)

Letter writing Tips download below

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