Chomsky writes to Hoon

Open Letter to Geoff Hoon MP, Minister of State for Europe

Dear Minister,

Urgent call for an independent investigation into the alleged poisoning of Abdullah Ocalan

Fears that Abdullah Ocalan is slowly being poisoned in his Turkish prison cell are now being voiced with emergence of alarming evidence derived from independent laboratory tests made on samples of his hair.

The hair sample, obtained by his visiting lawyers, was sent to independent scientific analytical experts acting impartially with no knowledge as to whom the hair samples had belonged. Their analysis conclusively shows higher than normal levels of the elements strontium and chromium were present. This has confirmed the fears of Kurds that Mr Ocalan may be suffering from contamination with toxic chemicals while in prison.

An independent investigation - incidentally, also called for by the respected Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), the Organization for Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER), and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) - is the only way to allay fears that there is no organized plot to poison the Kurdish leader, who has now been in jail for 9 years and who reaches the age of 60 in 2008.

EU parliamentarian Feleknas Uca has also called upon EU states to take action: "Europe must send an independent doctors' committee to Imrali, and this is urgent". At the same time, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) must visit Ocalan with Uca noting the following: "European states that criticize Guantanamo risk credibility by closing their eyes to Ocalan, who is [also] deprived of his legal rights in isolation at Imrali Island".

We wish to remind you that Turkey has an obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights not to subject anyone to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. An independent investigation will not only establish the true facts but will also act to ensure that the Turkish state, if found guilty of charges that have been levelled, will be held accountable to them. We urge EU member states that are currently involved in monitoring the EU-Turkey 'accession process' to also endorse the call for an independent investigation into the matter.

Many Kurds are rightly concerned over the results obtained by the tests that have been undertaken. As Aysel Tugluk, deputy chairwoman of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the main constitutional Kurdish supported political party in Turkey, told reporters, "If the allegations are true, it means that a planned murder is being consciously committed". Such an illegal act, if true, clearly represents a 'provocation' that must be condemned by all western leaders who claim to promote democratic and peaceful 'values', for it appears to be designed to stimulate conflict between Kurds and Turks at a time when peaceful initiatives, surely, must be supported.

Turkey appears to be embarking on a dangerous trajectory with now a real danger of the country descending into civil unrest and instability should the worst fears of many Kurds be allowed to go unheeded. Ocalan - who "was extraordinarily rendered by the US, Israel, and Turkey, in 1999, with the same wink-and-nod complicity of the EU" (Yilmaz, 2007) - remains a key player in any peace process that Turkey needs to engage with if it wishes to resolve the 'Kurdish Question', a move essential for it to become a fully fledged democratic state.

Recognising your keen interest in international affairs, we have hopes that you can give this matter your urgent attention.

Signed by

Open letter signatories

Prof Noam Chomsky
Mark Thomas, comedian/journalist
Lord Dholakia
Lord Rea
Hywel Williams MP
Elfyn Llwyd MP
Prof Bill Bowring, Barrister, Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London School of Law
Margaret Owen, Barrister, Member of the Bar Human Rights Committee. Adviser to the Kurdish Human Rights Project. Director of Widows for Peace through Democracy.
Richard McKane, Poet, Translator and Human Rights Interpreter
Prof Ken Coates, Chair of Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Stan Newens, President of "Liberation"
Stewart Hemsley, Chair Pax Christi
Nick Hildyard, policy analyst
Ben Hayes, Statewatch
David Morgan, journalist
Desmond Fernandes, political analyst, author of 'The Kurdish Genocide in Turkey'
(Apec, 2007, forthcoming), Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Frances Webber, barrister Garden Court Chambers
Smita Shah, barrister Garden Court Chambers
Jo Wilding, barrister Garden Court Chambers
Hugo Charlton, barristerProfessor HI Pilikian, HistorianKhatchatur I. Pilikian, Professor of Music & ArtLes Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Tom Frost, CAMPACC
Kofi Mawuli Klu, Chair Pan-Arikan Task Force for Internationalist Dialogue (PATFID)
Rachel Bird, human rights campaigner
Pete Weatherby, barrister at Garden Court North, Manchester
Jonathan Bloch, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Muswell Hill
Dr G Siddiqui, Leader of The Muslim Parliament
Ann Rossiter, writer
Sarah Parker, translator
Arzu Pesmen, Chair of Kurdish Federation UK
Ibrahim Dogus, Chair Halkevi Kurdish Turkish Community Centre
Alex Fitch, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Copies of letter to
Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Tony Lloyd MP, Leader of British delegation to CoE
Mr Murat Mercan (Justice & Development Party), President of Turkish delegation to CoE
Mr Abdul Kadir Ates(Republican People's Party), Chairperson of Political Affairs Committee of CoE

For information contact
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Tel 020 7586 5892