European & International News

Feminist activist Pinar Selek sentenced to life in Turkey

[Brussels, 01 February 2013] Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek was sentenced to life imprisonment in Turkey after 15-Year trial. She currently lives and works in Strasbourg (France) and runs the risk to be under arrest if she returns to her native country. An arrest warrant has been also issued.

15 years ago, Pinar Selek was arrested and convicted by the Turkish authorities, on the ground of terrorism, for the explosion of the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul (1998). She was suspected of being a member of PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). The accusation of terrorism was proven to be wrong by six expert reports and declared as a gas leak.

Pinar Selek was arrested in 1998 and freed two years and a half later. She was first acquitted in 2006 but the decision was reversed the year after by the Turkish supreme court. She was then acquitted twice in 2009 and 2011. The public prosecutor appealed the last acquittance. On 24 January 2013, Pinar Selek was sentenced to life imprisonment. Her father, the lawyer Alp Senek, will appeal this last decision.

Ms. Selek is strongly involved in women’s rights, and in particular on the issue of prostitution. She has worked a lot in Turkey with women and transgender persons affected by prostitution, and published a book about the issue in 2011. In Strasbourg, Ms. Selek is closely following the activities of the French NGO Mouvement du Nid.

A lot of NGOs support her fight against this judicial harassment such as the FIDH. A support committee was also created and is very active.

In June 2010, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) voted unanimously
on an emergency motion calling for support for Pinar Selek.
EWL policy officer Pierrette Pape met with her in November 2012.

To find out more about Pinar Selek, visit her website in English, and in French.

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