The Vigdis Foundation is working with Aysenur Parildak and her lawyer, İrem Danacıoğlu, on her case against the injustices she has faced in prolonged arbitrary detention due to baseless charges against her.
Earlier this year, Anne Christine attended Aysenur’s trial as an international observer in an effort to make it known that the world is watching how the court is mishandling and treating her case. We are also in contact with Aysenur’s lawyer and working on devising plans to support and assist in any way possible. We have heard from İrem that Aysenur’s mental and physical state are suffering during her prolonged detention. Immediate action is required to release Aysenur from her detention before her personal state worsens.
Below is a letter from Aysenur’s lawyer that describes Aysenur’s situation:
Aysenur Parildak is a 27-years-old young female journalist. She is also a successful student studying law at Ankara University Law Department. She has been deprived of her freedom for almost a year (since Aug. 4, last year).
Aysenur Parildak had first been detained and then imprisoned over the conduct of journalism and being active on Twitter. Normally, such activities are seen within the scope of freedom of expression, and media freedom in a democratic country run by the rule of law.
Aysenur Parildak was detained on Aug. 3, 2016, over an anonymous tip over allegations of membership to an armed terrorist organization. After having been subjected to inhumane treatment during detention period, she was arrested and sent to Ankara Sincan Female Prison. For her imprisonment, her tweets and working at the Zaman newspaper were cited. It means, my client was arrested over activities that are regarded normal within the scope of media and freedom of expression in a democratic country governed by rule of law.
Indictment into my client Aysenur Parildak was prepared on Nov. 28, 2016. In the indictment, she faces a criminal charge of membership to an armed terrorist organization (Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/2). The activities cited as evidence in the indictment for committing crime are the same with those activities referred for her detention. Feb. 9 was determined as the date of the first hearing after the acceptance of the indictment. During this period, my client’s objection to imprisonment, her demands for release have been rejected on clumsy reasons.
My client and I told the court that she did not commit a crime such as being a member of an armed terrorist organization, even did not commit any crime; that her activities should be regarded within the line of freedom of expression and media freedom. Despite all our defense, the panel of court judges decided to keep my client Aysenur Parildak’s imprisoned and set May 2 as the next hearing date.
We applied to Constitutional Court on March 27, citing unfair trial and lengthy pretrial detention.
On May 2, 2017, my client Aysenur Parildak was released in a unanimous decision by court judges. My client’s release was criticized by some people on social media and accusations took place against the court judges who released my client. Upon reaction on social media, the office of prosecutor objected against the release of my client. Prosecutor’s objection was accepted by the panel of judges at Ankara 14th High Criminal Court where my client is being tried, and she was again imprisoned. Upon the ruling for re-imprisonment, my client had never been released from prison after the first release decision.
At hearing on July 18, 2017, it was decided for continuity of her pre-trial detention. As a justification, being a ByLock (a smartphone messaging app) user and still being unable to collect evidence (by the prosecution) were cited. Next hearing was set for Oct. 10.
Aysenur Parildak is only one of the thousands of people who are deprived of their freedom due to current political state in Turkey. And she is grateful to all of you for not leaving her alone and helping her during this process. Thank you very much.
With all my respect,
Lawyer İrem Danacıoğlu
PRESS RELEASE, 18 September 2017
The Vigdis Freedom Foundation is proud to announce that its inaugural Shahnoush Award will be given this year to Ayşenur Parildak, a young reporter from the now-closed Zaman newspaper who is among hundreds of journalists and writers jailed after the July 2016 failed military coup attempt in Turkey.
Parıldak was arrested on Aug. 11, 2016. She had been covering court stories for Zaman and was also a student at the law faculty of Ankara University. In a letter from prison, she wrote:
“I was subjected to violence and sexual abuse. I was interrogated day and night for eight days. They [police officers] were questioning me while they were under the influence of alcohol […] I am afraid of being forgotten here.”
The Shahnoush Award will be given every year to a female prisoner of conscience whose courage has not been internationally acknowledged. By doing so, Vigdis brings attention to the suffering of women who languish behind bars for speaking out and whose human rights have been violated. They are not forgotten; they are not alone. Hope is sometimes the difference between life and death. May the Shanoush Award give hope to those who need it most.
This award bears the name of Shahnoush Behzadi, a fifteen-year-old girl who was executed in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, in the fall of 1981, only weeks after her arrest. Shahnoush had been a friend and classmate of author, human-rights advocate, and member of the Board of Directors at the Vigdis Freedom Foundation, Marina Nemat. Shahnoush was a kind young woman who was loved by her classmates and wanted to make the world a better place. She is buried in a mass grave in Iran.