last updated 09/12/2003 15:01:42

Resolution on Syria Concerning the Detention of Marwan Osman - 5 December 2003


Urgency Level : High

The Assembly of Delegates of International PEN, meeting at its 69th World Congress, held in Mexico City from 22-28 November 2003:

Protests the continued detention of writer, poet and member of Kurdish PEN Centre Mr. Marwan Osman , who is facing trial in the Syrian State Security Court on charges of ‘inciting religious and ethnic discord';

Notes that Marwan Osman was arrested in connection with a peaceful demonstration held by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party on 10 December 2002 demanding greater protection for the rights of Kurds living in Syria, and that if convicted, he faces up to fifteen years in prison;

Considers the prolonged detention of Marwan Osman to be in breach of his right to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory;

Urges the Syrian authorities to ensure the humanitarian treatment of Marwan Osman in detention;

Calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

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Asia and Middle East Researcher: Cathy McCann

last updated 16/12/2003 18:13:33

Resolution on the Linguistic Rights of the Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria


Urgency Level : High

The Assembly of Delegates of International PEN, meeting at its 69th Congress in Mexico City, Mexico, 22 – 28 November 2003,

Recalls that the linguistic community of Kurds is geographically mainly spread over the four countries of the Republic of Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq and Syria;

Also recalls that, other than in Iraq, the Kurdish language and Kurdish literature enjoy no state protection and are not being taught in schools;

Considers the right to speak, read and be educated in one’s mother tongue to be the birthright of all people, and also a prerequisite for peaceful dialogue among peoples;

Considers therefore that, as is the case in many nations world wide, the Kurds must have the right to determine by peaceful means the language they use and the literature they read,

Reminds forcefully each government that such basic equal rights enable all sections of the population, under the UNESCO banner of Cultural Diversity, to enrich the civil societies of their countries, facilitate mutual goodwill between different linguistic groups and thus encourage peaceful democratic development;

Urges the governments of these countries to ensure and uphold basic linguistic rights to all minority languages in their respective national areas, thus preventing harmful yet needless cultural conflicts within their respective national territories;

Appeals to the Turkish, Iranian and Syrian authorities to recognise the rich linguistic and literary heritage of the Kurdish people, and to repeal all laws which repress the natural linguistic diversity of their countries, while appealing to the Iraqi authorities to give substance to their commitment to protecting the Kurdish language.

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Chair: Kata Kulavkova

last updated 09/12/2003 15:39:59

Resolution on Turkey Concerning the Detention of Leyla Zana - 5 December 2003


Urgency Level : High

The Assembly of Delegates of International PEN, meeting at its 69th World Congress, held in Mexico City from 22-28 November 2003:

Expresses deep concern that Kurdish rights activist, politician and writer Leyla Zana, remains detained following the ninth retrial hearing against her on 21 November 2003;

Notes that Leyla Zana is accused of membership of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), but that extensive discrepancies in the trial process has led PEN and other observers to conclude that she is being penalised for her peaceful and legitimate support of Kurdish rights;

Shares the concerns of other international organisations, and, most notably the European Court on Human Rights conclusion, that the original trial against Leyla Zana and the other three Kurdish politicians imprisoned alongside her in 1994 was unfair and that the retrial hearings are similarly flawed;

Points out that Leyla Zana was sentenced while in prison in 1998 to an additional sentence of two years for her prison writings, an additional breach of internationally recognised human rights norms, notably Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey is a party;

Also brings attention to the fact that among the many writers and publishers currently on trial in Turkey are those whose focus is on Kurdish issues;

- Calls upon the judicial authorities presiding over the case of Leyla Zana to order her immediate release pending the outcome of her retrial;

- Urges that the courts take serious consideration of the international criticism of the irregularities present in the original trial, and further criticism of the process of the current retrial;

- Expresses the hope that the outcome of the retrial will be Leyla Zana’s release;

- Additionally calls for a further review of Turkish legislation to remove from its remit the prosecution and conviction of writers and publishers who practice their right to freedom of expression and association, a right that the Turkish government itself is committed through its accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Programme Director: Sara Whyatt