Ayşe Berktay, a jailed translator convicted of being a KCK organization member, received PEN American Center's 2013 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. This is the 27th year the award has honored an international literary figure who has been persecuted or imprisoned for exercising or defending the right to freedom of expression.
“Ayşe Berktay is a brave, clear, passionate voice for women’s rights and cultural rights in Turkey, and she absolutely should not be in prison,” said PEN American Center President Peter Godwin.
“As a translator and as a peaceful activist, her life has been shaped by the desire to bridge cultures and convey truths that challenge official orthodoxies and histories. That this could be somehow labeled terrorism reveals a great deal about Turkey today—a country that, despite so much progress in so many areas, is now prosecuting scores of writers and journalists, most of them on specious terrorism charges. This award, which honors Ayşe Berktay’s courage, signals PEN’s determination to reverse this disturbing trend. The Turkish government can begin by arranging her immediate release.”
The award will be presented at PEN’s Annual Gala on April 30, 2013, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Berktay is a member of the pro-Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP), which has 36 elected representatives in the Parliament. On 7 October 2011, she has been arrested for "being a KCK illegal organization member".
Contributed to the formation of World Tribunal on Iraq and helped to organize its last hearing in Istanbul in 2005, Berktay also observed the KCK hearings prior to her arrest due to similar charges.
On the 10th anniversary of Iraq Invasion, BRussells Tribunal awarded Ayşe Berktay with its solidarity award.
She is also the recipient of 2012 PEN Duygu Asena Award. (NV)
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