Petition to Free Canan Kaftancioglu, Human Rights Activist & Critic of Radical Islam

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Canan Kaftancioglu, a Turkish politician and critic of Islam, has received a 10 year-long prison sentence for “blasphemy against Islam.” If the Court of Cassation upholds the sentence, Kaftancioglu will have to serve time in prison. The "blasphemy" in question involves Twitter posts where she highlighted various human rights abuses committed by an increasingly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Canan is the executive director of the Istanbul branch of Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP), the secular opposition. She defeated Islamic fundamentalists in Istanbul, the largest city in Europe and the fourth largest city in the world, through her relentless advocacy. Canan has multiple college degrees and she has a long history of human rights advocacy, including working for TIHV (Turkish Human Rights Foundation). She has written her dissertation about “Torture Victims in Forensic Medicine.” Her father-in-law was assassinated by Islamists.

Kaftancioglu’s comments are protected under the universal principles of free speech and liberty of conscience. There is no credible basis for a jail sentence according to binding precedent from the Court of Cassation, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, Turkey is an increasingly authoritarian state and there is no guarantee that Kaftancioglu will be able to maintain her liberty.

The prison sentence, if upheld, will have an enormous chilling effect on the free speech rights of dissidents, democrats, and religious minorities worldwide. We implore you to take action, if you can. Please sign our petition and please share it widely.